Spanish Numbers: How to Count from 1 The Complete Guide to Counting in Spanish: Learn to Count Better …
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Spanish Numbers: How to Count from 1 The Complete Guide to Counting in Spanish: Learn to Count Better …

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  • How to Write Numbers in Spanish

    Co-authored by Diana Con Webber | 25 References

    In this Article: Writing Cardinal Numbers Writing Ordinals and Multiples Expressing Fractions and Percentages Community Q&A 25 References

    For the most part, writing numbers in Spanish is no different than writing them in English. Spanish uses the same numerals as are used in English. However, there are some quirks to writing numbers in Spanish that don’t exist in English, particularly when it comes to writing larger numbers or using numbers as adjectives. [1]

    Steps

    1

    Writing Cardinal Numbers

    1. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 01

      1
      Memorize unique names of numbers. The first 15 numbers in Spanish have unique names that you’ll need to learn. After those, the numbers come in combinations, so you can form more numbers by combining the names of the ones you already know. [2]

      • The words for the first 15 numbers in Spanish are uno (1), dos (2), tres (3), cuatro (4), cinco (5), seis (6), siete (7), ocho (8), nueve (9), diez (10), once (11), doce (12), trece (13), catorce (14), and quince (15).
    2. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 02

      2
      Learn to count by tens. The tens in Spanish are unique words as well. Recognize the pattern that most of these are more or less a combination of the word for the first digit and the suffix -enta. For example, cuarenta is a combination of cuatro (4) and the suffix -enta, with the “t” removed as well. [3]

      • To write numbers through 99, all you need are the tens and the second digit, separated by the word y. For example, 34 would be “treinta y cuatro,” which literally means “30 and 4.”
    3. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 03

      3
      Use -cientos for hundreds. To create the full word for a number in the hundreds, you simply add the word for the other digits to ciento or cientos. [4]

      • For example, two hundred is doscientos. The only exception is the word for the number 500, which is quinientos.
    4. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 04

      4
      Connect tens and ones with the word “y” (and). When writing out large numbers in Spanish, you need an y between the second and third digit of each grouping of three digits. This is the case regardless of how many groupings there are. [5]

      • For example, if you wanted to write the number “999,999” in Spanish you would write the words as “novecientos noventa y nueve mil novecientos noventa y nueve.” The literal translation of this into English is “nine hundred ninety and nine thousand, nine hundred ninety and nine.”
    5. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 05

      5
      Learn the word “mil.” In Spanish, you use “mil” for “thousand.” If you’re writing about something that is exactly 1,000, you should only write “mil,” not “un mil.” The plural form of “mil” is “miles.” [6]

      • There is an exception if you’re writing a check in Spanish and the amount begins with “one thousand.” Then you usually should write “un mil” rather than “mil” to prevent someone from altering the check – even though this is technically incorrect.
    6. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 06

      6
      Use the word “millón” for a single million or “millones” for several million. Write the words just as you would in English, by writing first the number of millions there are, and then writing the rest of the numbers. [7]
    7. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 07

      7
      Keep in mind that a billion in Spanish is not the same quantity as in English. In Spanish, extremely big numbers in the billions and trillions are counted differently than they are in English. If you fail to recognize this, you could make a significant error when writing numbers in Spanish. [8]

      • In Spanish, the number you would call “one billion” in English is called “mil millones,” or “thousand million.” The Spanish word “billón” is equivalent to the number you would call “one trillion” in English. [9]
    8. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 08

      8
      Shorten the words ciento, uno, and veintiuno. In Spanish, if you’re speaking of exactly 100, you must shorten ciento to cien. The numerals uno and veintiuno also are shortened to un and veintiún if they are immediately before another number, a noun, or an adjective. [10]

      • For example, if you were talking about one dog, you would write “un perro.”
      • When you’re using the feminine forms of these numbers, however, they are not shortened. For example, if you were writing about one ball, you would write “una pelota.”
    9. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 09

      9
      Use decimal points and commas correctly in numerals. One of the biggest differences between written numbers in Spanish and written numbers in English is the use of decimal points and commas. [11]

      • When you write numbers in Spanish, separate thousands with a decimal point – not with a comma as you would in English. For example, you would write “126,342” as “126.342” in Spanish.
      • Decimals, on the other hand, are written using a comma. For example, if you wanted to write pi in Spanish, you would write “3,14159265359.”
    10. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 10

      10
      Separate thousands with a white space. While decimals are still acceptable to use when separating thousands as you write numbers in Spanish, it also is acceptable to simply use a space. [12]

      • This method has become more common as a way to separate thousands because it keeps the decimal point from being confused with the comma.
    11. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 11

      11
      Make number words agree with the things they describe. If a number word describes a feminine noun, you should write it so that it ends in -a rather than -o. Unless you’re referring to exactly one thing, the noun also must be pluralized. [13]

      • For example, if you were referring to 20 houses, in Spanish you would write “veintiuna casas.”
      • Keep in mind that in Spanish, anything that isn’t exactly one must be pluralized. For example, on an invoice or spreadsheet, you would pluralize the noun even if the quantity listed was “1,00” (expressed in English as 1.00). [14]
    12. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 12

      12
      Use cardinal numbers with dates. In English, you might write “April first” in a paragraph about April Fool’s Day. However, in Spanish, you would write “1 abril,” putting the day first and using the cardinal number rather than the ordinal. [15]

    2

    Writing Ordinals and Multiples

    1. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 13

      1
      Use ordinals to put things in order. Cardinal numbers are used to count things, or describe the number of things there are. Ordinal numbers, on the other hand, describe the placement of something in an ordered list, such as the placement of runners who finished a race. [16]

      • As in English, the lowest ordinals, such as primero (first), and segundo (second), typically are used the most.
    2. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 14

      2
      Make ordinals agree with the thing they describe. Since ordinals are used in a sentence as adjectives, they must use the same gender form as the thing they describe. You do this by changing the o at the end of the ordinal to an a. [17]

      • For example, if you were referring to “the second house” on a street, you would write “la segunda casa.”
    3. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 15

      3
      Maintain gender agreement with abbreviations. In English, you’ve probably seen ordinals abbreviated as “1st” or “2nd.” Ordinals can be abbreviated in Spanish too. For example, “1st” in Spanish would be written if the first thing is a feminine noun, and to describe a masculine noun. [18]
    4. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 16

      4
      Create multiples similar to English. Multiples are words such as “double” or “triple” that indicate a multiplication of a number. These words are vary similar to the words in English – for example, “double” in Spanish is “doble” – so they should be fairly easy to learn and remember if English is your first language. [19]

      • All but the first seven multiples are created by adding the suffix -plo to the root of the cardinal number word. Be careful of accent marks, which indicate which syllable should be stressed.
      • The first seven ordinals also have forms that end with the -plo suffix (such as “duplo” and “triplo”), but they are seldom used by Spanish speakers.
    5. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 17

      5
      Change the word form to create verbs and adverbs. In Spanish as in English, you might want to use multiples as a verb (doubled or tripled) or as an adverb (doubly or triply). To form these words in Spanish, you must change the word form. [20]

      • To create a verb, change the -plo suffix to -plicar. To do this with the first seven multiples, you’ll have to use that seldom-used -plo form. For example, “to double” in Spanish would be “duplicar.”
      • To create an adverb, you simply use the standard adverbial suffix -mente – similar to adding an -ly to form an adverb in English. For example, “triply” would be “triplemente.”

    3

    Expressing Fractions and Percentages

    1. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 18

      1
      Learn the word form for different fractions. While halves and thirds have unique words in Spanish, fractions from fourths to tenths are the same as the ordinals for those numbers. The powers of ten also are ordinals. [21]

      • All other fractional words are formed by adding the suffix -avo to the correct cardinal number. For example, if you wanted to write out “one-eleventh” you would write “onceavo.”
    2. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 19

      2
      Use parte with fractions. When you are using the fraction as an adjective, you might add parte immediately after the fraction, just as in English you would add the word “part.” [22]

      • For example, if you wanted to express “I took the third part,” you would write “tomé la tercera parte.”
    3. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 20

      3
      Write fractional nouns as one word. In English, fractions typically are written out as hyphenated phrases. However, in Spanish any fraction you write using words is written as one word, no matter how long that word is. [23]

      • For example, if you wanted to write out the fraction 1/59, you would write “cincuenta nueveavo.”
    4. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 21

      4
      Choose the correct gender for fractions. The basic rule is that fractions in Spanish are masculine if you are using them as nouns, and feminine if you are using them as adjectives. [24]

      • Fractional nouns that express powers of ten can be either masculine or feminine. Which you use depends on where you are in the world – in Spain they typically are feminine, while in Latin America they typically are masculine.
      • For example, if you wanted to write “one tenth” in Spanish you might write “décimo” in Guatemala, but in Spain you would probably want to write “décima” to ensure you were understood.
      • Fractional nouns other than the powers of ten are always masculine.
    5. Image titled Write Numbers in Spanish Step 22

      5
      Use por ciento to express a percentage. Percents are expressed in Spanish the same way they are in English. You can either write it out with the words or the % sign. For example, you could write either “7 por ciento” or “7%.” [25]

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        References

        1. http://www.spanish411.net/Spanish-Numbers.asp
        2. https://spanishnumbers.guide
        3. https://spanishnumbers.guide
        4. https://spanishnumbers.guide
        5. https://spanishnumbers.guide
        6. http://www.spanish411.net/Spanish-Numbers.asp
        7. https://spanishnumbers.guide
        8. http://www.languagesandnumbers.com/articles/en/long-and-short-numeric-scales/
        9. http://www.spanishdict.com/translate/trillion
        10. https://spanishnumbers.guide
        11. http://www.spanish411.net/Spanish-Numbers.asp
        12. https://spanishnumbers.guide
        13. http://www.spanish411.net/Spanish-Numbers.asp
        14. https://spanishnumbers.guide
        15. http://www.spanish411.net/Spanish-Numbers.asp
        16. http://www.spanish411.net/Spanish-Numbers.asp
        17. http://www.spanish411.net/Spanish-Numbers.asp
        18. http://www.spanish411.net/Spanish-Numbers.asp
        19. http://www.spanish411.net/Spanish-Numbers.asp
        20. https://spanishnumbers.guide/multiplicative-numbers.html
        21. https://spanishnumbers.guide/fractions-in-spanish.html
        22. http://www.elearnspanishlanguage.com/vocabulary/ordinalnumbers.html
        23. https://spanishnumbers.guide/fractions-in-spanish.html
        24. https://spanishnumbers.guide/fractions-in-spanish.html
        25. http://www.spanish411.net/Spanish-Numbers.asp

        Show more… (16)

        Article Info

        Categories: Numbers in Spanish | Writing Spanish

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        Português:  Escrever Números em Espanhol , Italiano:  Scrivere i Numeri in Spagnolo

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        This version of How to Write Numbers in Spanish was expert co-authored by  Diana Con Webber on February 23, 2018. Learn more…

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        Spanish Numbers: How to Count from 1 – 1,000+ in Spanish

        by

        Would you like to know about Spanish numbers, and how to count from 1-100 in Spanish?

        In this article I share everything you need to know about Spanish numbers. I cover what the Spanish numbers are, shortcuts for how to learn them, and some bonus stuff like their etymologies.

        Spanish Numbers from 0-100

        Let’s start with the basics. I’ll show you the first 100 numbers in Spanish, then I’ll break things down and explain some tricks for remembering them.

        1
        uno
        11
        once
        21
        veintiuno
        31
        treinta y uno
        41
        cuarenta y uno
        51
        cincuenta y uno
        61
        sesenta y uno
        71
        setenta y uno
        81
        ochenta y uno
        91
        noventa y uno
        2
        dos
        12
        doce
        22
        veintidós
        32
        treinta y dos
        42
        cuarenta y dos
        52
        cincuenta y dos
        62
        sesenta y dos
        72
        setenta y dos
        82
        ochenta y dos
        92
        noventa y dos
        3
        tres
        13
        trece
        23
        veintitrés
        33
        treinta y tres
        43
        cuarenta y tres
        53
        cincuenta y tres
        63
        sesenta y tres
        73
        setenta y tres
        83
        ochenta y tres
        93
        noventa y tres
        4
        cuatro
        14
        catorce
        24
        veinticuatro
        34
        treinta y cuatro
        44
        cuarenta y cuatro
        54
        cincuenta y cuatro
        64
        sesenta y cuatro
        74
        setenta y cuatro
        84
        ochenta y cuatro
        94
        noventa y cuatro
        5
        cinco
        15
        quince
        25
        veinticinco
        35
        treinta y cinco
        45
        cuarenta y cinco
        55
        cincuenta y cinco
        65
        sesenta y cinco
        75
        setenta y cinco
        85
        ochenta y cinco
        95
        noventa y cinco
        6
        seis
        16
        dieciséis
        26
        veintiséis
        36
        treinta y seis
        46
        cuarenta y seis
        56
        cincuenta y seis
        66
        sesenta y seis
        76
        setenta y seis
        86
        ochenta y seis
        96
        noventa y seis
        7
        siete
        17
        diecisiete
        27
        veintisiete
        37
        treinta y siete
        47
        cuarenta y siete
        57
        cincuenta y siete
        67
        sesenta y siete
        77
        setenta y siete
        87
        ochenta y siete
        97
        noventa y siete
        8
        ocho
        18
        dieciocho
        28
        veintiocho
        38
        treinta y ocho
        48
        cuarenta y ocho
        58
        cincuenta y ocho
        68
        sesenta y ocho
        78
        setenta y ocho
        88
        ochenta y ocho
        98
        noventa y ocho
        9
        nueve
        19
        diecinueve
        29
        veintinueve
        39
        treinta y nueve
        49
        cuarenta y nueve
        59
        cincuenta y nueve
        69
        sesenta y nueve
        79
        setenta y nueve
        89
        ochenta y nueve
        99
        noventa y nueve
        10
        diez
        20
        veinte
        30
        treinta
        40
        cuarenta
        50
        cincuenta
        60
        sesenta
        70
        setenta
        80
        ochenta
        90
        noventa
        100
        cien

        A lot to take in? Take another look and try to spot the patterns. I recommend you follow these steps to get all the numbers into your head:

        1. Learn the numbers for 1-15. There’s no real pattern, you just have to learn them: uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez, once, doce, trece, catorce, quince.
        2. Learn the numbers for the multiples of ten: veinte, treinta, cuarenta, cincuenta, sesenta, setenta, ochenta, noventa. A few tips to help you remember:
          • Other than veinte, they all end in -enta
          • Other than veinte (again), they all have a clear relationship with the related smaller number: cuatro <-> cuarenta, ocho <-> ochenta, etc.

        Once you’ve memorized the above, you can fill in the gaps with a simple formula:

        • For numbers from 16-19, take the rightmost digit and say “diez + y + (digit)”. E.g. 17 = “diez + y + siete” = “diez y siete”, which contracts to diecisiete. This is much like how in English 16 is “six-ten” i.e. “sixteen”.
        • For numbers above twenty, simply take the “tens” number (veinte, treinta, etc.) and the “ones” number (uno, dos, tres, etc.) and stick “y” (“and”) in the middle. E.g. 31 = “thirty and one” = treinta y uno. 98 = “ninety and eight” = noventa y ocho.
        • The only extra thing to be aware of is that numbers from 21-29 get contracted into a single word – so instead of “veinte y cuatro”, it’s “veinticuatro”.

        Finally, don’t forget that:

        • zero = cero (this one should be easy to remember!)
        • 100 = cien (note the link with English words like “century”, “centipede”, or “percent“.)

        With these simple steps, you’ll have the numbers 1-100 memorized in no time.

        Spanish for “One”: Un, Uno, or Una?

        Spanish doesn’t distinguish between “one” and “a” in the same way that English does. “Un libro” can mean “a book” or “one book”.

        When you think about it, those two phrases mean the same thing; the only difference is in emphasis.

        However, it’s important to note that the word uno changes to match the gender of the noun it describes. Before a feminine noun, it becomes una. Before a masculine noun, you drop the o and just use un.

        Some examples:

        • Un libro – a book/one book. Drop the “o” from “uno” because it’s followed by a masculine noun.
        • Una mesa – a table/one table. Change “uno” to “una” because it’s followed by a feminine noun.
        • Tengo uno – “I have one”. “Uno” is unchanged because it’s not followed by a noun.
        • “¿Hay preguntas?” “Solo una.” – “Any questions?” “Only one”. In this case you use una because you’re referring to a pregunta (question), which is a feminine word.

        Spanish for 100: Cien or Ciento?

        The number 100 can be translated into Spanish as either cien or ciento. What’s the difference?

        Use “cien” when you have exactly one hundred of something:

        • Cien personas = one hundred people
        • Cien libros = one hundred books

        Use “ciento” as part of a larger number, e.g. “one hundred and one” is ciento uno.

        But how do you form those larger numbers anyway?

        Spanish Numbers from 100 to 999

        Larger Spanish numbers can be formed according to some simple rules:

        For numbers from 100 to 199, use ciento:

        • 101 = ciento uno
        • 129 = ciento veintinueve
        • 195 = ciento noventa y cinco.

        (Note that you don’t need to add y after ciento – it’s ciento uno, not ciento y uno.

        For numbers from 200 to 999, you must first learn the multiples of 100. Don’t worry, they’re really straightforward:

        • 200 = doscientos
        • 300 = trescientos
        • 400 = cuatrocientos
        • 500 = quinientos
        • 600 = seiscientos
        • 700 = setecientos
        • 800 = ochocientos
        • 900 = novecientos

        These are simple enough – just note that 500 (quinientos), 700 (setecientos) and 900 (novecientos) are slightly irregular.

        These eight numbers have masculine and feminine forms, and so must agree with the noun:

        • setecientas personas = seven hundred people
        • ochocientos libros = eight hundred books

        To fill in the gaps, e.g. between 200 and 300, just follow the same patterns as for 100 (ciento):

        • 201 = doscientos uno
        • 202 = doscientos dos
        • 220 = doscientos veinte
        • 221 = doscientos veintiuno
        • 225 = doscientos veinticinco
        • 238 = doscientos treinta y ocho

        Spanish Numbers from 1 Thousand to 1 Million

        The only two new words you need to learn are mil (1,000) and un millón (1,000,000).

        Note that 1,000 is mil, not un mil – whereas for un millón, you can’t leave out the un.

        The only time you’ll see un mil is in numbers like cuarenta y un mil (41,000). You obviously need to put an un in this number to distinguish it from cuaranta mil (40,000). When you’re just talking about 1,000 with nothing the “ten-thousands” column, write mil, with no un.

        Forming new numbers with mil and un millón is fairly straightforward, and is best illustrated by example:

        • 1,000 = mil
        • 1,001 = mil uno (not “mil y uno”!)
        • 1,500 = mil quinientos
        • 1,686 = mil seiscientos ochenta y seis
        • 2,001 = dos mil uno
        • 20,000 = veinte mil
        • 33,000 = treinta y tres mil
        • 100,000 = cien mil
        • 483,382 = cuatrocientos ochenta y tres mil trescientos ochenta y dos
        • 1,000,000 = un millón
        • 3,000,000 = tres millones
        • 6,492,000 = seis millones cuatrocientos noventa y dos mil
        • 8,841,932 = ocho millones ochocientos cuarenta y un mil novecientos treinta y dos (Yikes! What a mouthful.)

        Finally, note that when you’re using un millón or millones with a noun, you must use de. So, for example, “one million books” is un millón de libros. Literally, you’re saying “one million of books*”.

        Breaking Up Spanish Numbers: Dots or Commas?

        In English, it’s conventional to break up big numbers with a comma every three digits to aid readability. So instead of writing “1048710123901”, we write “1,048,710,123,901”.

        We also indicate the decimal point with a dot, so “one half” can be written as “0.5”.

        Be careful! In Spanish-speaking countries – as in many other parts of the world – these conventions are reversed. They use a comma for decimals, and break up large numbers with dots – or alternatively, they put a space between every three digits. So my two examples above would be written as “1.048.710.123.901” (or “1 048 710 123 901”) and “0,5”.

        (For the sake of consistency, I’m going to stick with the English-like conventions for the rest of this article. But make sure to do things the other way around when writing Spanish.)

        Billions and Trillions in Spanish (They’re Not What You Think)

        What do you think the Spanish words billón and trillón mean? Did you guess “billion” and “trillion”? Sadly, things aren’t that simple.

        In the English-speaking world, a “billion” is one thousand millions (1,000,000,000) and a “trillion” is one thousand billions (1,000,000,000,000.) In other words, every “step up” involves multiplying by 1,000.

        Not everyone does it like this! Our way is called the “short scale” numbering system, but many countries around the world – including most Spanish-speaking countries – use the “long scale” system.

        In this system, a “billion” (or its cognate) is one million millions, and a “trillion” is one million billions. Rather than multiplying by a thousand each time, you multiply by a million.

        So Spanish words like billón don’t “match up” with their English counterparts like you might expect:

        • un millón = one million = 1,000,000
        • un millardo (or “mil millones”) = one billion = 1,000,000,000
        • un billón = one trillion = 1,000,000,000,000
        • mil billones = one quadrillion = 1,000,000,000,000,000
        • un trillón = one quintillion = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000

        (Note: in the past, American English used the short-scale system while British English used the long-scale system. This is no longer true – all dialects of English now use the short-scale system.)

        How to Say “…and a Half” in Spanish

        In English, we often abbreviate the names of numbers by saying “… and a half”, “… and a third”, etc..

        So instead of saying “two thousand five hundred”, an English speaker might say “two and a half thousand”. Instead of “one million five hundred thousand”, they might say “one and a half million”.

        I often notice Spanish people getting this wrong when they speak English. They put the “and a half” in the wrong place – instead of saying (for example) “one and a half million”, they say “one million and a half”. That’s because they’re translating directly from how they’d say in Spanish – un millón y medio.

        Try not to make the opposite mistake when you speak Spanish. Say un millón y medio, not un y medio millón.

        Ordinal Numbers in Spanish

        So far I’ve only talked about cardinal numbers – one, two, three, etc. It’s also important to learn the ordinal numbers – first, second, third, fourth, etc. Here are the first ten:

        EnglishEspañol
        firstprimero
        secondsegundo
        thirdtercero
        fourthcuarto
        fifthquinto
        sixthsexto
        seventhséptimo
        eighthoctavo
        ninthnoveno
        tenthdécimo

        Ordinal numbers are adjectives that must agree with the noun – although, unlike most Spanish adjectives, they go before the noun, not after:

        • el segundo libro = the second book
        • la segunda persona = the second person
        • los primeros carros = the first cars
        • las primeras flores = the first flowers

        Note that primero and tercero drop the “o” before a singular masculine noun:

        • el primer día = the first day
        • el tercer hijo = the third son

        To form ordinal numbers above 10, you must first learn the numbers for the multiples of ten:

        EnglishEspañol
        twentiethvigésimo
        thirtiethtrigésimo
        fortiethcuadragésimo
        fiftiethquincuagésimo
        sixtiethsexagésimo
        seventiethseptuagésimo
        eightiethoctogésimo
        ninetiethnonagésimo

        Then fill in the gaps by combining numbers from the above two tables:

        • 22nd = vigésimo segundo
        • 56th = quincuagésimo sexto
        • 81st = octogésimo primero

        Just remember that both parts of the number must agree with the noun: “the 22nd person” would be la vigésima segunda persona.

        For numbers from “11th” to “19th”, it’s more common to write them as one word than two:

        • 11th = decimoprimero or décimo primero
        • 14th = decimocuarto or décimo cuarto
        • 18th = decimoctavo or décimo octavo (Notice how the “o” at the end of decimo merges with the “o” at the beginning of octavo here, so you don’t write two “o”s)

        Finally, note that “11th” and “12th” can alternatively be translated as undécimo and duodécimo.

        If this is a lot to take in, don’t worry! Ordinal numbers higher than décimo aren’t actually used very often. They tend to be reserved for formal writing. In everyday speech you’re much more likely to hear the cardinal number:

        • “The eleventh day” = El undécimo día or el día once
        • “The 56th person” = la quincuagésima sexta persona or la persona cincuenta y seis

        Etymology of Spanish Numbers

        Where do Spanish numbers come from, anyway? As you probably know, Spanish is a “Romance language”, which means it’s descended from Latin.

        Compare modern Spanish numbers to ancient Latin – and to other modern Romance languages – and you can easily see the links:

        LatinSpanishPortugueseFrenchItalianRomanian
        UnusUnoUmUnUnoUnu
        DuoDosDoisDeuxDueDoi
        TresTresTrêsTroisTreTrei
        QuattorCuatroQuatroQuatreQuattroPatru
        QuinqueCincoCincoCinqCinqueCinci
        SexSeisSeisSixSeiŞase
        SeptemSieteSeteSeptSetteŞapte
        OctoOchoOitoHuitOttoOpt
        NovemNueveNoveNeufNoveNouă
        DecemDiezDezDixDieciZece

        But we can go further back than that! The Romance languages are a sub-family of Indo-European languages – the family that also includes English.

        The common ancestor of all Indo-European languages was proto-Indo-European . That name is a modern invention – we don’t know what its own speakers called it.

        In fact, we know very little with certainty about proto-Indo-European. There are no written records of it; the best we can do is guess what it sounded like by comparing its modern descendants.

        Here’s one linguist’s guess as to what the numbers 1-10 sounded like in proto-Indo-European. Can you see the similarities with both ancient Latin and modern English? (Some are more obvious than others.)

        • hoinos
        • duoh
        • treies
        • kwetuor
        • penkwe
        • sueks
        • septm
        • hekteh
        • hneun
        • dekmt

        Spanish Numbers: How Do You Learn Them?

        Here’s a funny story about Spanish numbers:

        In 2008 the American football player Chad Johnson legally changed his last name to “Ochocinco”. This new moniker was a reference to his jersey number: 85. The problem – as you’ll now know – is that ocho-cinco doesn’t mean “eighty-five”. The correct Spanish is ochenta y cinco. It’s unknown whether Chad was aware of this mistake when he made the name change. (In 2012, he changed his last name back to “Johnson”.)

        Now you’ve read this article, you’re not going to make a mistake like that.

        Are you learning to speak Spanish ? Do you have any tricks for learning Spanish numbers? What worked for you? Let me know in the comments.

        Benny Lewis

        Founder, Fluent in 3 Months
        Speaks: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Esperanto, Mandarin Chinese, American Sign Language, Dutch, Irish
        Fun-loving Irish guy, full-time globe trotter and international bestselling author. Benny believes the best approach to language learning is to speak from day one .

        View all posts by Benny Lewis

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        Learning Spanish » Numbers in Spanish

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        Numbers in Spanish

        As we’ve discussed on many occasions, learning a languageany language — to fluency is a long, arduous process. Learning how to express everything you want to say with other words, and/or in a different order is not an easy task. What is even more difficult, however, is having to ‘relearn’ what you already know. This is certainly the case with numbers in Spanish: learning how to say the date, tell time, give your phone number to someone, and so forth can actually wind up being more complicated than learning the verbs. Today we’re going to discuss some of the ways in which numbers are expressed and the rules surrounding them.

        Numbers in Spanish

         

        Cardinal Numbers in Spanish

        Most likely you studied elementary Spanish at some point, thus you’re probably familiar with the cardinal numbers (i.e. uno, dos, tres, veintidós, treinta y cinco…). There are a few things to keep in mind, however, when using them.

        First of all, remember that uno shortens to un when placed in front of a singular, masculine noun, becoming rather the indefinite article (artículo indeterminado) versus the number ‘one’. This is not much different from English as a native speaker would say, “Yesterday I met a friend for lunch” as opposed to “Yesterday I met one friend for lunch.”

        Porcentaje

        Percentages in Spanish

        A similar phenomenon occurs with the number ‘ one hundred ’. When standing alone, 100 is pronounced as cien. This form is also used when placed before a noun (e.g. cien personas, cien días) or before numbers such as mil, millón, billón, and cuatrillón. In other cases ciento is used: 101, ciento uno; 150, ciento cincuenta; 180, ciento ochenta. The expression cientos de is correct, as well.

        When discussing percentages in Spanish, remember that two forms are possible when expressing ‘100%’, which are cien por ciento, and cien por cien. For other percentages, only por ciento is correct. For example, ’75%’ is to be stated as el setenta y cinco por ciento and not el setenta y cinco por cien.

         

        One Thousand Million?

        You’ll notice that when speaking English, Spaniards will use the term ‘one thousand million’, a number which obviously does not exist in our language. Of course the numbers in English go hundred, thousand, million, billion, trillion, and so forth. The reason for this speaking error is the fact that ‘billion’ is expressed as mil millones in Spanish; the numbers go cien, mil, millón, mil millones, billón. Thus, in order to say ‘100 billion’ you have to say cien mil millones. Know that this practice is common in virtually all Western European languages, the only exception perhaps being Portuguese, which follows the same system as English.

         

        Commas and periods

        Regarding the usage of commas or periods in Spanish to separate numbers, we must keep a few things in mind. Of course in English we typically use commas to separate every three numbers (1,000,000); in Spanish, however, commas are used to indicate decimal places (0,60€). Traditionally numbers in Spanish have been separated by periods (1.000.000), a practice which is now deemed incorrect by the Real Academia Española . Larger numbers are now to be separated by a blank space rather than a decimal or a comma (1 000 000). In the same fashion, four-digit numbers are to be written together (4327 not 4 327). Also, the same practice is to be used when writing years, page numbers, verses, street numbers, zip codes, PO boxes, numbers of legal articles, decrees, or laws.

         

        Not as easy as one, two, three!

        Although you’re probably able to count to one hundred in Spanish, we’ve certainly seen that expressing numbers correctly in the language is not as easy as one, two, three. Nonetheless, remember to study and know that the best way to get the numbers down is to practice the language, and what better place to do so than Spain.

         
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