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.
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.
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:
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).
The written form follows the same rules except we add the suffixes to the word.
- 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
In this video, you’ll learn how to use ordinal and cardinal numbers: