I am aware of a related question and I know that

  • "廿" means 20.
  • "卅" means 30.
  • "卌" means 40.

But I am wondering how to use them correctly. When and how do we use "廿", "卅" and "卌"? For example, are the following sentences gramatically correct?

  1. 这里距离机场有卌八千米。
  2. 我今年卅岁。
  3. 今天是四月廿七日。
  • 1
    They are grammatically correct, but nobody understands if you say like that. 廿, 卅, 卌 are archaic, so don't use them.
    – Victor
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 10:24
  • It is not archaic in Cantonese.
    – OmniBus
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 5:57

5 Answers 5


As far as I know, in Mainland China:

  • 廿 is only used in written lunar calendar. It is very rarely used in spoken Chinese. However, it may be used in some dialects such as Cantonese.
  • 卅 is not used in spoken Chinese, except for representing the 30th day of a month in naming a few historical events and telegraph (popular in early 1900s but rarely used today).
  • 卌 is nearly extinct and should be considered obsolete.

In conclusion: 二十 ("two tens"), 三十 ("three tens") and 四十 ("four tens") are enough.

  • 1
    I would suggest changing "rarely used in spoken Chinese" into "rarely used in spoken Mandarin". Also, 卅 is commonly used in Cantonese. Commented Jul 29, 2020 at 15:47

廿, 卅, 卌 are never used in Modern Standard Mandarin Chinese except some idiomatic expressions.

They might be used in Old Chinese and Middle Chinese, but never in Modern Standard Mandarin Chinese, except some idiomatic expressions.

五卅惨案 May 30th Massacre

This is the only term that I can think of using 卅 in Modern Standard Mandarin.

Sometimes you can see 廿一, 廿二, 廿三, ... 廿九 in Chinese calendar, but many people may pronounce them as 二十一, 二十二, 二十三, ... 二十九, because many native Chinese speakers do not even know the Mandarin pronunciation of 廿.

20 to 29 are 二十 to 二十九

30 to 39 are 三十 to 三十九

40 to 49 are 四十 to 四十九

These are how we use in Mandarin.

However, they are pretty common in some non-Mandarin Chinese, such as Cantonese and Hokkien. For example, Hokkien uses 廿一 for 21 and 卌一 for 41.


bkrs: 廿 twenty (20), in a limited number of set expressions,e.g. 廿世纪 20th century, also written using banker’s character 念

卅 30, thirtieth, used in telegrams
五卅惨案 May 30, 1925 LINE dictionary: 马来西亚吉籣丹卅皇御前表演。我们会在十一月卅日前完成您的订单需求。

卌 outdated, suggested examples all seem uncommon, esp. 1,3, (not used for compound numbers)

  • We never say 廿世纪. Only 二十世纪 is used.
    – Victor
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 0:46
  • note reference to bkrs,also web search yields results with 廿世纪, and in fact also 廿一世纪
    – user6065
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 4:24

They are seldom used in modern Mandarin.

However, you can see "廿" used on calendars for lunar dates, and "卅" used in some proper nouns (e.g. 五卅惨案).

  • Thanks! Just to clarify: If 廿 is used in lunar calendars, why not 卅?
    – Zuriel
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 2:19
  • 3
    There are at most 30 days in a lunar month, and all lunar dates are written using two characters in the calendar: "初一“ ... "初九", "初十", "十一” ... "十九", "二十", "廿一", ... "廿九", "三十".
    – fefe
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 2:26
  • 1
    @fefe As for 廿一, 廿二, ..., 廿九 in Chinese calendar, they are usually pronounced as 二十一, 二十二, ..., 二十九, because many Chinese people do not know the pronunciation of 廿.
    – Victor
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 4:35
  • 1
    @Zuriel There are 30 days at most in one month in Chinese lunar calendar, using 廿 but not 卅 ensure that exact two Chinese Characters for the name of each day, which is tidy.
    – xenophōn
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 2:06
  • 1
    @Zuriel 廿 is still used in Shanghainese, for example, native Shanghainese said 廿二 (pronounced as nie ni) for 22, 廿七 for 27 (pronounced as nie qi), there are 3 different version for the number 2 in different cases.
    – xenophōn
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 2:12

I think those appear mostly on calendars or newspapers in order to save space (especially in headlines). No one uses those in speech.

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