Counting to 10 in Samoan is pretty straight forward: Tasi, lua, tolu, fā, lima, ono, fitu, valu, iva, sefulu. Once you know the Samoan words for the numbers 1 to 10, it’s not too difficult to count to 100.

Samoan numbers are very similar to those of other Polynesian languages.

Here’s how we start:

Numbers 0 – 10

0 O
1 tasi
2 lua
3 tolu
5 lima
6 ono
7 fitu
8 valu
9 iva
10 sefulu

 As you can see, the Samoan word for 10 is sefulu.

To count past 10 and into the “teens”, just think about what number you have to add to sefulu. For example, 11 is 10 and 1, so in Samoan, 11 is sefulu and tasi, or sefulu ma le (and the) tasi.

See how that works?

In every day Samoan, we often drop the ‘and the’ (ma le) and just say sefulutasi.

Numbers 11 – 19

11 sefulutasi
12 sefululua
13 sefulutolu
14 sefulufā
15 sefululima
16 sefuluono
17 sefulufitu
18 sefuluvalu
19 sefuluiva
From 20, we switch up the order that we put the numbers together. For example, to say 12, we use the words for 10 and 2 (sefulu ma le lua, or sefululua), but for the number 20, we think 2 and 10 instead. So 20 is lua (2) + sefulu (10), or luasefulu.

This will be the same pattern for 30 (tolu + sefulu), 40 (fā + sefulu), 50 (lima + sefulu) and right up to 90.

And then we just add the incremental numbers. So for 21, we would think 2 + 10 + 1 and say luasefulu ma le tasi, or just luasefulu tasi.

Numbers 20 – 31

20 luasefulu
21 luasefulu tasi
22 luasefulu lua
23 luasefulu tolu
24 luasefulu fā
25 luasefulu lima
26 luasefulu ono
27 luasefulu fitu
28 luasefulu valu
29 luasefulu iva
30 tolusefulu
31 tolusefulu tasi
And our numbers just continue like that right up to 100. Now, our word for 100 is selau. Our word for 200 is lua (2) selau. Our word for 300 is tolu (3) selau. See that?

Our pattern for numbers after 100 (or any hundred) is very simple and predictable, now. For 102, we would say selau ma le lua. For 112, we say selau sefulu lua. For 122, we say selau lua sefulu ma le lua. And for 222, we say lua selau, luasefulu ma le lua.

Got it?

Numbers past 100

100 selau
200 lua selau
300 tolu selua
105 selau ma le lima
163 selau onosefulu (ma le) tolu
258 luaselau limasefulu valu
497 fā selau ivasefulu fitu
1000 (tasi le) afe
1200 tasi le afe luaselau (or afe luaselau)
2350 lua afe tolu selau limasefulu
5126 lima afe selau luasefulu ono
7892 fitu afe valu selau ivasefulu ma le lua

Bonus Lesson: Counting People

All the numbers we’ve mentioned so far are used for all counting situations, but because our culture has a special regard for humans, when we count people, we always add the word ‘to’a’ in front of the number. For example:

I have 3 houses. | E tolu o’u fale.
I have 3 children. | E to’a tolu la’u fānau.
She has 5 dogs. | E lima ana maile.
She has 5 teachers. | E to’a lima ona faiaoga.

So don’t forget. When you’re counting people, it’s respectful to add the word ‘to’a’ before the number.