Burmese Numerals

Burmese numerals (Burmese: , [mjà?mà ?a?ná?]) are a set of numerals traditionally used in the Burmese language, although Arabic numerals are also used. Burmese numerals follow the Hindu-Arabic numeral system commonly used in the rest of the world.

Main numbers

Burmese numerals in various script styles

Zero to nine

Number Burmese
Numeral Written
0 ? 1
IPA: [?òa?]
1 ?
IPA: [t]
2 ? ?
IPA: [n]
3 ? ?
IPA: [?ó]
4 ?
IPA: [lé]
5 ?
IPA: [?á]
6 ?
IPA: [ta]
7 ?
(hku. nac)
IPA: [k? n]2
8 ? ?
IPA: []
9 ? ?
IPA: [kó]
(ta. hcai)
IPA: [s]

1 Burmese for zero comes from Sanskrit nya.
2 Can be abbreviated to IPA: [k?] in list contexts, such as telephone numbers.

Spoken Burmese has innate pronunciation rules that govern numbers when they are combined with another word, be it a numerical place (e.g. tens, hundreds, thousands, etc.) or a measure word.[1]

  • For one, two, and seven (all of which end in the rhyme [-]), when combined, shift to an open vowel, namely the schwa ([?])
  • For three, four, five, and nine which all have the long tone (similar to the flat tone in pinyin), when combined, the word immediately following it, given that it begins with a consonant, shifts to a voiced consonant (e.g., , "40" is pronounced [lé z], not [lé s]). Other suffixes such as ([t?à]; thousand), ([?á]; ten thousand), ([?é]; hundred thousand), and ? ([?á?]; million) all shift to ([dà]; thousand), ([ðá]; ten thousand), ([ðé]; hundred thousand), and [ðá?]; million), respectively.
  • For six and eight, no pronunciation shift occurs.

These pronunciation shifts are exclusively confined to spoken Burmese and are not spelt any differently.

Ten to a million

Number Burmese
Numeral Written IPA
10 IPA: [t?s]1
11 IPA: [t?s t] or [s t]
12 ? IPA: [t?s n] or [s n]
20 ? IPA: [ns]
21 IPA: [ns t] or [ns t]
22 IPA: [ns n] or [ns n]
100 IPA: [jà]
1 000 ? IPA: [t?à]1
10 000 IPA: [?á]1
100 000 IPA: [?é]1
1 000 000 ? ? IPA: [?á?]1
10 000 000 ? IPA: [dè]
1 × 1014 . IPA: [kd?]
1 × 1021 . IPA: [p?kd?]
1 × 1028 . IPA: [kd?p?kd?]
1 × 1035 . IPA: [n?hotà?]
1 × 1042 . IPA: [nen?hotà?]
1 × 1049 . IPA: [k?àbènì]
1 × 1056 . IPA: [bedu?]
1 × 1063 . IPA: [à?bu?da?]
1 × 1070 . IPA: [ni?rà?bu?da?]
1 × 1077 . IPA: [b?ba?]
1 × 1084 . IPA: [t?ta?]
1 × 1091 . IPA: [kà?di?ka?]
1 × 1098 . IPA: [?op?la?]
1 × 10105 . IPA: [ku?mùda?]
1 × 10112 . ? IPA: [p?dùma?]
1 × 10119 . IPA: [pòd?ri?ka?]
1 × 10126 . ? IPA: [k?tàna?]
1 × 10133 . ? IPA: [m?hàk?tàna?]
1 × 10140 . IPA: [ì? tèi]

1 Shifts to voiced consonant following three, four, five, and nine.

Ten to nineteen are almost always expressed without including (one).

Another pronunciation rule shifts numerical place name (the tens, hundreds and thousands place) from the low tone to the creaky tone.[1]

  • Number places from 10 () up to 107 (?) has increment of 101. Beyond those Number places, larger number places have increment of 107. 1014 () up to 10140 () has increment of 107.
  • There are totally 27 major number places in Burmese numerals from 1×100 to 10140
  • Numbers in the tens place: shift from ([s], low tone) to ? ([s], creaky tone), except in numbers divisible by ten (10, 20, 30, etc.) In typical speech, the shift goes farther to ([s] or [z]).
  • Numbers in the hundreds place: shift from ([jà], low tone) to ([ja?], creaky tone), except for numbers divisible by 100.
  • Numbers in the thousands place: shift from ([t?à], low tone) to ([t?a], creaky tone), except for numbers divisible by 1000.

Hence, a number like 301 is pronounced [?ó ja? t] (?), while 300 is pronounced [?ó jà] ().

The digits of a number are expressed in order of decreasing digits place. For example, 1,234,567 is expressed as follows (where the highlighted portions represent numbers whose tone has shifted from low -> creaky:

Numeral 1,000,000 200,000 30,000 4,000 500 60 7
IPA [tá?]1 [ne]1 [?ó ðá] [lé da] [?á ja?] [ta s] [k? n]
Written ? ? ?

1 When combined with the numeral place, the pronunciations for 1 and 2 shift from a checked tone (glottal stop) to an open vowel ([?]).

Round number rule

When a number is used as an adjective, the standard word order is: number + measure word (e.g. ? ? for "5 cups"). However, for round numbers (numbers ending in zeroes), the word order is flipped to: measure word + number (e.g. , not , for "20 bottles").[2] The exception to this rule is the number 10, which follows the standard word order.[1]

Ordinal numbers

Ordinal numbers, from first to tenth, are Burmese pronunciations of their Pali equivalents.[1] They are prefixed to the noun. Beyond that, cardinal numbers can be raised to the ordinal by suffixing the particle ([mja], lit. "to raise") to the number in the following order: number + measure word + .

Ordinal Burmese Pali equivalent
Burmese IPA
First IPA: [p?tma?] pa?hama[1]
Second IPA: [d?t?ja?] dutiya[1]
Third ? IPA: [ta?t?ja?] tatiya[1]
Fourth IPA: [z?dot?a?] catuttha[1]
Fifth IPA: [pjs?ma?] pañcama[1]
Sixth IPA: [s?a?t?a?ma?] chahama[1]
Seventh IPA: [?a?t?ma?] sattama[1]
Eighth IPA: [?a?t?ama?] ahama[1]
Ninth IPA: [n?w?ma?] navama[1]
Tenth IPA: [dama?] dasama[1]

Decimal and fractional numbers

Colloquially, decimal numbers are formed by saying ([dama?], Pali for 'tenth') where the decimal separator is located. For example, 10.1 is ([s?è da? (da?) ma? t]).

Half (1/2) is expressed primarily by ([t?w]), although , ? and are also used. Quarter (1/4) is expressed with ([se]) or ?.

Other fractional numbers are verbally expressed as follows: denominator + ([pò]) + numerator + . literally translates as "portion." For example, 3/4 would be expressed as ?, literally "of four portions, three portions.

Alternate numbers

Other numbers, not of Tibeto-Burman origin, are also found in the Burmese language, usually from Pali or Sanskrit.[3] They are exceedingly rare in modern usage.

Number Pali derivatives Sanskrit derivatives Hindi derivatives
1 [4] ([?èka?], from Pali ?ka)
2 [4] ([dw?], from Pali dvi)
3 (from Pali ti) [4] ([t], from Sanskrit tri)
4 [4] ([z?t?], from Pali catu) [4] (from Hindi )


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Okell, John (2002). Burmese By Ear (PDF). The School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. ISBN 186013758X.
  2. ^ San San Hnin Tun (2014). Colloquial Burmese: The Complete Course for Beginners. Routledge.
  3. ^ Hla Pe (1985). Burma: Literature, Historiography, Scholarship, Language, Life, and Buddhism. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. p. 64. ISBN 9789971988005.
  4. ^ a b c d e Myanmar-English Dictionary. Myanmar Language Commission. 1993. ISBN 1-881265-47-1.

See also

External links

Media related to Burmese numbers at Wikimedia Commons

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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