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◀️ Interrogation — Previous Lesson Next Lesson — Time and Dates ▶️

FrenchVocabulary0 to A1 Course → Numbers and Time → Cardinal and Ordinal Numbers

In the previous lesson, we learned about the French alphabet, pronunciation, greetings, and basic introductions. Now, it's time to delve into the world of numbers and time in French. In this lesson, we will focus on cardinal and ordinal numbers, which are essential for everyday conversations and understanding French culture. So, let's get started!

Cardinal Numbers[edit | edit source]

Cardinal numbers are used to express quantity or to count objects. They are the numbers that we use in our everyday lives, such as "one," "two," "three," and so on. In French, cardinal numbers are relatively straightforward to learn and use. Here are some examples of cardinal numbers in French:

  • 1 - un (uh)
  • 2 - deux (duh)
  • 3 - trois (twah)
  • 4 - quatre (katr)
  • 5 - cinq (sank)
  • 6 - six (sees)
  • 7 - sept (set)
  • 8 - huit (weet)
  • 9 - neuf (nuhf)
  • 10 - dix (dees)

You may have noticed that the pronunciation of some French numbers is different from their English counterparts. It's important to practice the correct pronunciation to be easily understood by native French speakers.

French cardinal numbers follow a consistent pattern, making it easier to count higher numbers. For numbers from 11 to 16, you simply combine the number ten (dix) with the corresponding units. For example:

  • 11 - onze (onz)
  • 12 - douze (dooz)
  • 13 - treize (trehz)
  • 14 - quatorze (kah-tohrz)
  • 15 - quinze (kans)
  • 16 - seize (sayz)

From 17 to 19, the pattern changes slightly. The units are placed after the number ten, separated by a hyphen. For example:

  • 17 - dix-sept (dees-set)
  • 18 - dix-huit (dees-weet)
  • 19 - dix-neuf (dees-nuhf)

Once you reach 20, the pattern becomes more consistent again. The tens are expressed with the word "vingt" (vant), followed by the units. For example:

  • 20 - vingt (vant)
  • 21 - vingt et un (vant ay uh)
  • 22 - vingt-deux (vant duh)
  • 30 - trente (trahnt)
  • 40 - quarante (kah-rahnt)
  • 50 - cinquante (sank-ahnt)
  • 60 - soixante (swah-sahnt)
  • 70 - soixante-dix (swah-sahnt-dees)
  • 80 - quatre-vingts (katr-uh-vahnt)
  • 90 - quatre-vingt-dix (katr-uh-vahnt-dees)
  • 100 - cent (sahn)

As you can see, the French numbers have some unique patterns and variations, especially with the numbers from 70 to 99. It's essential to practice these numbers to become comfortable using them in conversations.

To express higher numbers, you continue the pattern of combining the tens and units. For example:

  • 101 - cent un (sahn uh)
  • 200 - deux cents (duh sahn)
  • 300 - trois cents (twah sahn)
  • 1000 - mille (meel)
  • 2000 - deux mille (duh meel)
  • 1,000,000 - un million (uh mee-lyohn)

When counting objects in French, you need to use the appropriate form of the cardinal number. For example:

  • un livre (one book)
  • deux livres (two books)
  • trois livres (three books)

Remember that cardinal numbers agree in gender and number with the noun they modify. We will cover this topic in more detail in later lessons.

Ordinal Numbers[edit | edit source]

Ordinal numbers are used to indicate the order or rank of something. In English, we use words like "first," "second," "third," and so on. Similarly, French has its own set of ordinal numbers. Let's take a look at some examples:

  • 1st - premier (prem-yay)
  • 2nd - deuxième (duh-zee-em)
  • 3rd - troisième (trwah-zee-em)
  • 4th - quatrième (ka-tree-em)
  • 5th - cinquième (sank-yem)
  • 6th - sixième (sees-yem)
  • 7th - septième (set-yem)
  • 8th - huitième (weet-yem)
  • 9th - neuvième (nuh-vee-em)
  • 10th - dixième (dee-zee-em)

Just like cardinal numbers, ordinal numbers also agree in gender and number with the noun they modify. For example:

  • la première fois (the first time)
  • le deuxième jour (the second day)
  • les troisièmes places (the third places)

It's important to note that ordinal numbers from one to nine have a different form when used as adjectives before a noun. Here is the list of these forms:

  • 1st - premier (prem-yay)
  • 2nd - deuxième (duh-zee-em)
  • 3rd - troisième (trwah-zee-em)
  • 4th - quatrième (ka-tree-em)
  • 5th - cinquième (sank-yem)
  • 6th - sixième (sees-yem)
  • 7th - septième (set-yem)
  • 8th - huitième (weet-yem)
  • 9th - neuvième (nuh-vee-em)

Once you reach the number ten and beyond, the ordinal numbers are formed by adding the suffix "-ième" to the cardinal number. For example:

  • 10th - dixième (dee-zee-em)
  • 11th - onzième (onz-yem)
  • 12th - douzième (dooz-yem)
  • 20th - vingtième (vant-yem)
  • 21st - vingt et unième (vant ay uh-nee-em)
  • 30th - trentième (trahnt-yem)

It's also worth mentioning that ordinal numbers are often used in dates, such as "le premier mai" (the first of May) or "le vingt et un août" (the twenty-first of August). We will explore dates further in the next lesson.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Congratulations! You have learned how to express and use cardinal and ordinal numbers in French. These numbers are vital for everyday conversations, telling time, and talking about dates. Practice pronouncing them correctly and using them in context to become more fluent in French.

In the next lesson, we will dive into the world of time and dates in French. You will learn how to tell time, talk about daily routines, and discuss specific dates. Get ready to expand your vocabulary and enhance your understanding of French culture!

Sources[edit | edit source]

Other Lessons[edit | edit source]

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