Hawaiian Number Basics: 1 to 100

Counting From One To A Hundred in Hawaiian

In this 22 minute video, you will learn about the basics of Hawaiian numbers and how to count from 1 to 100. I show you the formulaic pattern that can be used to create any number from 11-99, with only one exception (20)!


You really only need to learn about 14 words to get from zero to one hundred! Isn’t that great?

Knowing the number base names (1-9) as well as understanding how the number-building pattern repeats itself all the way from 11 to 99 are the two main goals for you as you watch this video. You will want to take notes, so get your pen and paper ready!

Most importantly for this lesson, memorize how the numbers are built, which is what I will teach you in this video. After all, why try to memorize a huge set of 99 individual words like that when you can build them quickly in your head knowing the formula I will teach you?

Learn Your Numbers

The first thing to learn is the set of numbers from 1 to 9 which is the first part of this video. (The number zero is ʻole, and you will learn more about ʻole in 0504V Zero and One, Quantity vs. Question.)

Numbers 0 – 9
0 ʻole1 kahi2 lua3 kolu4– –
5 lima6 ono7 hiku8 walu9 iwa10 ʻumi

I will then take you from 10 to 19 and introduce the “joining” or “glue” sound -kūmā- which allows you to create 11 by saying “10-kūmā-1”, 12 by saying “10-kūmā-2”, and so on up to “10-kūmā-9”.

The only really unusual number is 20: iwakālua (which oddly seems like it should mean something to do with 9 and 2). For further reading, you may be interested in a short article I wrote, 0502E Thoughts on the Number Twenty, about why the number iwakālua seems to be so strange and why we just have to accept it the way it is. You may want to read it after you have finished watching this video, however.

Using iwakālua combined with the joining word -kūmā- that was explained in the video, you can create many many more numbers all the way to 100!

Numbers 20 – 29
20 iwakālua21 iwakālua-kūmā-kahi
22 iwakālua-kūmā-lua23 iwakālua-kūmā-kolu
24 iwakālua-kūmā-hā25 iwakālua-kūmā-lima
26 iwakālua-kūmā-ono27 iwakālua-kūmā-hiku
28 iwakālua-kūmā-walu29 iwakālua-kūmā-iwa

To complete the lesson, you should see if you can write out the remaining numbers 30 to 99 which I do not cover explicitly in this video. This is what will allow you to figure out the system by yourselves which is a great way to get the pattern fixed in your minds. Start by learning the prefix kana- which allows you to say 30, 40, 50, and so on to 90.

Numbers 30 – 90
30 kana-kolu40 kana-hā
50 kana-lima60 kana-ono
70 kana-hiku80 kanawalu
90 kana-iwa

It may seem to you that the numbers are extraordinarily looooong in Hawaiian, especially compared to English. But after you practice saying them for a while, you will find that they appear to get “shorter” and don’t take too much of your time to say. I think that word length (or “time to produce”) is one of the pressures that push L2 speakers (second-language speakers) to use L1 numbers (those from their first acquired language) over the L2 equivalents. Let’s not allow ourselves to fall into that rut and keep on using our L1 numbers just because they seem “easier”. Take time with this lesson to really get the sounds of the words into your mind and into your mouth!

Watch The Video

Go to the video link at the end of this article to view the video and get going with Hawaiian numbers if you wish to start right away!

Practice, Practice, Practice!

It is important to practice saying the numbers in Hawaiian. You can easily put the numbers to use every day to get them set in your mind

  • count the tiles in the shower
  • read aloud car license plates (number plates)
  • read speed limit signs out loud
  • look through your contacts and say the telephone numbers
  • learn your own phone number(s) by heart!
  • write every number from 0 to 100 to learn the patterns and spelling and train “muscle-memory”
  • clearly and slowly pronounce the numbers at first, and then increase your speed later
  • record yourself and be judgemental when you listen back (compare to my examples)
  • create flash cards with the written-out numbers on one side and the figures on the other
  • read Sudoku grids out loud

Let me know in the comments below if you find other great ways to practice. I hope you found this additional material helpful!

Next Steps

The next video to watch in this series, if you are interested in learning more about using numbers in Hawaiian, is 0503V Traditional Hawaiian Number Groups in which I share how Hawaiians traditionally used a set of about six words (kāuna, kaʻau, lau, mano, kini, lehu) to group objects easily in the same way that we might use “dozen” and “score” in English. Following that will be a couple more videos focusing on the basics of numbers before we start using them in sentences.

And in case you missed the link earlier, there is an article in this set called 0502E Thoughts on the Number Twenty which might provide an interesting distraction on your path through this 0500 Series of lessons about Hawaiian numbers.

Video Outline

  1. Number basic parts 1 to 9
  2. Numbers 10 to 19
  3. More about 10 and 20
  4. Numbers 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, and 90
  5. One Hundred 100!

Length: 22 minutes

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Two comments on “Hawaiian Number Basics: 1 to 100
  1. Aloha Kaua

    I learned to count “twenty” as: iwakaulua versus iwakalua
    “Kaulua” equals a “pairing”….. 2 nines iwa =18 + 2 lua = iwakaulua= 20
    Sometimes it is in the hearing and spelling that sounds and meanings of words are misunderstood, misheard and then miswritten.
    My knowledge of hawaiiana is limited but this I understand. I do hope this will shed some light on the long standing mystery concerning the number 20. Pela paha, a’ole paha (maybe, maybe not! Ha!!!
    Aloha Pau’ole
    Elithe Manuha’aipo Kahn

    • E Manuhaʻaipo ē, aloha kāua!

      He nīnau hoihoi nō kāu! Your thoughts on the word for twenty (20) are interesting indeed, and I agree with you that “Sometimes it is in the hearing and spelling that sounds and meanings of words are misunderstood, misheard and then miswritten” as you said. But in the case of this word, I am certain that it has been spoken as “iwakālua” for at least 200 years, since the time of Kamehameha The Great at least.

      I thought the best response to your comment would be via a post that people could easily find. Please go to 0502E Thoughts on the Number Twenty.

      Mahalo no kou mau manaʻo – thank you for your comments and I hope we can chat more about ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi some day!

Pane mai

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