A numeral is a figure, a symbol, a word (or their combinations) representing a number.
It denotes the number of objects, their number, and also the order when counting objects. There are cardinal and ordinal numbers.
- I have two apples.
- There are twenty-five pencils in the box.
- I’ve already asked him three times.
Cardinal numerals
We use cardinal numbers to count or to say how many of something there are.
- Five plums.
- Forty cars.
- One million dollars.
- I ate ten apples.
Cardinal Numerals | |||
1 One | 2 Two | 3 Three | 4 Four |
5 Five | 6 Six | 7 Seven | 8 Eight |
9 Nine | 10 Ten | 11 Eleven | 12 Twelve |
13 Thirteen | 14 Fourteen | 15 Fifteen | 16 Sixteen |
17 Seventeen | 18 Eighteen | 19 Nineteen | 20 Twenty |
21 Twenty-one | 22 Twenty-two | 23 Twenty-three | 24 Twenty-four |
25 Twenty-five | 26 Twenty-six | 27 Twenty-seven | 28 Twenty-eight |
29 Twenty-nine | 30 Thirty | 40 Forty | 50 Fifty |
60 Sixty | 70 Seventy | 80 Eighty | 90 Ninety |
100 One hundred | 1,000 One thousand | 1,000,000 One million | 1,000,000,000 One billion |
Compound numerals, (numbers consisting of two words), from 21-99 should be hyphenated.
- We invited twenty-five people to the dinner.
For higher numerals, we can add ‘and’ between the second last word and the final word.
- He requested nine hundred and ten plates.
- Where did you get all four hundred and fifty-five of these?
When saying large cardinal numerals we don’t add ‘-s’ to the words ‘hundred’, ‘thousand’ and ‘million’:
- There are two hundred eight (208) pupils in our school.
- There are five thousand eight hundred thirty (5,830) kilometers between New-York and Paris.
To avoid misunderstandings with certain similar-sounding cardinal numerals, always stress the correct syllable when pronouncing them.
- Thirteen (13) → Thirty (30)
- Fourteen (14) → Forty (40)
- Fifteen (15) → Fifty (50)
- Sixteen (16) → Sixty (60)
- Seventeen (17) → Seventy (70)
- Eighteen (18) → Eighty (80)
- Nineteen (19) → Ninety (90)
Watch this video and find out about small and big numbers:
Ordinal numbers
We use ordinal numerals to express position or rank of something in a sequential order of size, chronology, importance, etc.
- The first song was beautiful, but the second was rather dull.
- The thousandth passenger received a reward.
- Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States.
- He came in fourth (4th) in the race.
Spelling of ordinal numbers
We can write ordinal numbers in two ways – a numerical form or in written, word form.
In the numerical form, we add the suffix ‘-th’ to most ordinal numbers. However, 1, 2, and 3, have special suffixes: ‘-st’ (first), ‘-nd’ (second), and ‘-rd’ (third).
- 1st
- 2nd
- 3rd
- 4th
- 5th
- 6th
- 10th
- 15th
- 20th
- 21st
The written form follows the same rules except we add the suffixes to the word.
- First
- Second
- Third
- Fourth
- Fifth
- Sixth
- Tenth
- Fifteenth
- Twentieth (note the change in spelling from ‘y’ to ‘ie’)
- Twenty-first (note the hyphen is still necessary)
In some cases, the spelling of the numeral is modified to accommodate the suffix:
- one – first
- two – second
- three – third
- five – fifth
- eight – eighth
- nine – ninth
- twelve – twelfth
Additionally, for cardinal numbers ending in ‘-y’ we change it to ‘-ie’ in ordinal numbers:
- twenty – twentieth
- forty – fortieth
- sixty – sixtieth
In compound numerals ‘-th’ is added to the last word.
- one million – one-millionth
- two hundred – two-hundredth
Ordinal Numerals | |||
1st First | 2nd Second | 3rd Third | 4th Fourth |
5th Fifth | 6th Sixth | 7th Seventh | 8th Eighth |
9th Ninth | 10th Tenth | 11th Eleventh | 12th Twelfth |
13th Thirteenth | 14th Fourteenth | 15th Fifteenth | 16th Sixteenth |
17th Seventeenth | 18th Eighteenth | 19th Nineteenth | 20th Twentieth |
21st Twenty-first | 22nd Twenty-second | 23rd Twenty- third | 24th Twenty-fourth |
25th Twenty-fifth | 26th Twenty- sixth | 27th Twenty- seventh | 28th Twenty-eighth |
29th Twenty-ninth | 30th Thirtieth | 40th Fortieth | 50th Fiftieth |
60th Sixtieth | 70th Seventieth | 80th Eightieth | 90th Ninetieth |
100th One-hundredth | 1,000th One-thousandth | 1,000,000th One-millionth | 1,000,000,000th One-billionth |
In this video, you’ll learn how to use ordinal and cardinal numbers:
See also: