Counting Numbers in Malay

The numbering system in Malay is similar to the English system. From one to ten it is followed by teens, tens, hundreds, thousands and so on. This is a guide to tell the numbers and counting in Malay.

The numbering system in Malay is similar to the English system. Starting from one to ten, it is followed by teens, tens, hundreds, thousands and so on. This is a guide to tell the numbers and count in Malay.

One to ten

NumberSpellingPronunciation (standard)
1satusa-tu
2duadu-e
3tigati-ge
4empatem-pat
5limali-me
6ename-nam
7tujuhtu-joh
8lapanla-pan
9sembilansem-bi-lan
10sepuluhse-pu-loh
0kosongko-song

The pronunciation guide for the letters can be found in this post. However in standard Malay, some pronunciation tend to follow a set of rules, which affect words ending with a and ending syllable containing u from the table above. This standard pronunciation guide can be found here. If you are confused how “du-e” is pronounced, think “dual” without the l.

Teens

Now on to the teens count. It is similar to English numbers in teens. The Malay equivalent word for it is “belas”.

NumberMalay Word
11sebelas
12dua belas
13tiga belas
14empat belas
15lima belas
16enam belas
17tujuh belas
18lapan belas
19sembilan belas
20dua puluh

You might realise “sebelas” does not follow the same pattern to the other numbers. Instead of “satu belas”, it is using the suffix “se-” wich represents “one”. It is also preferred in the larger place values, but a strict rule applies only for “sepuluh” and “sebelas”.

Tens

Below is the way to combine the term for tens for different numbers. Nothing special here, but this pattern is usable for larger place values.

NumberMalay Word
10sepuluh
20dua puluh
30tiga puluh
40empat puluh
50lima puluh
60enam puluh
70tujuh puluh
80lapan puluh
90sembilan puluh
100seratus

The ones, tens, hundreds, thousands and so on

The number of digits from a figure is called place value. Below are the names for the place values for different number figures in Malay.

Number FigurePlace Value
1sa
10puluh
100ratus
1,000ribu
10,000puluh ribu
100,000ratus ribu
1,000,000juta
1,000,000,000bilion
1,000,000,000,000trilion

“Juta” is one of the words that is pronounced to its spelling despite having a as the ending letter. “Bilion” and “trilion” are obviously borrowed from English word. Here, there is just a slight difference which is the single l and the o is pronounced in Malay pronunciation. Although, if you pronounce it as in English, most would not notice the change of language.

Numbers in approximation

In this part, you will learn how to use these numbers as approximation, or general range of number figures using the place values.

Number FigureApproximationGeneral Range
1beberapaname several numbers (dua, tiga etc.)
10berpuluh-puluhpuluhan
100beratus-ratusratusan
1,000beribu-riburibuan
1,000,000berjuta-jutajutaan
1,000,000,000berbilion-bilionn/a

For the words above, we will use a simple example. If you want to say there are thousands of something, you would use “beribu-ribu” or simply “beribu”. To say that something is within a thousands in number, you would use “ribuan”. However, there are no strict rule that dictate this.

To sum it up

Let’s do some examples to practice what we’ve learn above. It could be helpful to rewrite the numbers on a piece of paper. Break them down by place values and you can see clearer. Answer is provided below exercise question number 5. So try to stop scroll the page up until the last question if you want to work it out first.

Exercise:

  1. 2020
  2. 971
  3. 1,215
  4. 120,120
  5. 112

Answer:

  1. Dua ribu dua puluh
  2. Sembilan ratus tujuh puluh satu
  3. Seribu dua ratus lima belas
  4. Seratus dua puluh ribu seratus dua puluh
  5. Seratus dua belas

Hopefully that cover the numbers. Leave your thoughts in the comment below if you have any questions or any feedbacks.

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