French Grammar Guide for non-francophones

NUMBERS (e.g.: un, deux, vingt, mille, etc.)

Oveview of French Numbers

We use numbers to count and indicate how many nouns are being described. The main challenges in writing numbers involve the forms, the use of hyphens and where and where not to add -s.

Let's first consider the words French uses for cardinal numbers:

Numbers from 1 - 50
un (1) onze (11) vingt et un (21) trente et un (31) quarante et un (41)
deux (2) douze (12) vingt-deux (22) trente-deux (32) quarante-deux (42)
trois (3) treize (13) vingt-trois (23) trente-trois (33) quarante-trois (43)
quatre (4) quatorze (14) vingt-quatre (24) trente-quatre (34) quarante-quatre (44)
cinq (5) quinze (15) vingt-cinq (25) trente-cinq (35) quarante-cinq (45)
six (6) seize (16) vingt-six (26) trente-six (36) quarante-six (46)
sept (7) dix-sept (17) vingt-sept (27) trente-sept (37) quarante-sept (47)
huit (8) dix-huit (18) vingt-huit (28) trente-huit (38) quarante-huit (48)
neuf (9) dix-neuf (19) vingt-neuf (29) trente-neuf (39) quarante-neuf (49)
dix (10) vingt (20) trente (30) quarante (40) cinquante (50)

 

Numbers from 51 - 100
cinquante et un (51) soixante et un  (61) soixante et onze (71) quatre-vingt-un (81) quatre-vingt-onze (91)
cinquante-deux (52) soixante-deux (62) soixante-douze (72) quatre-vingt-deux (82) quatre-vingt-douze (92)
cinquante-trois (53) soixante-trois (63) soixante-treize (73) quatre-vingt-trois (83) quatre-vingt-treize (93)
cinquante-quatre (54) soixante-quatre (64) soixante-quatorze (74) quatre-vingt-quatre (84) quatre-vingt-quatorze (94)
cinquante-cinq (55) soixante-cinq (65) soixante-quinze (75) quatre-vingt-cinq (85) quatre-vingt-quinze (95)
cinquante-six (56) soixante-six (66) soixante-seize (76) quatre-vingt-six (86) quatre-vingt-seize (96)
cinquante-sept (57) soixante-sept (67) soixante-dix-sept (77) quatre-vingt-sept (87) quatre-vingt-dix-sept (97)
cinquante-huit (58) soixante-huit (68) soixante-dix-huit (78) quatre-vingt-huit (88) quatre-vingt-dix-huit (98)
cinquante-neuf (59) soixante-neuf (69) soixante-dix-neuf (79) quatre-vingt-neuf (89) quatre-vingt-dix-neuf (99)
soixante (60) soixante-dix (70) quatre-vingts(80) quatre-vingt-dix (90) cent (100)

 

Larger Numbers
English French Notes
hundred cent  
one hundred and one cent un *no hyphen, don't use the word et
two hundred deux cents *when nothing follows cent, add "s" for (200, 300, etc.)
two hundred and ten deux cent dix *when another number follows, cent doesn't take an -s (an -s is added to cent if the following is million or millard since these are considered nouns, e.g.: cinq cents millions
thousand mille  
two thousand deux mille *the word mille never takes an -s (unless you mean "mile")
nine thousand three hundred and seventeen neuf mille trois cent dix-sept *here we see: mille never has -s, cent doesn't have -s since another number follows, the word dix-sept is written as it normally is.
million million

*this is masculine, e.g.: un million;

*the word million is considered a noun and does take an -s, e.g; deux millions cinquante

billion milliard

*modern French doesn't use the word billion

*the word milliard is considered a noun and takes an -s in the plural

trillion mille milliards *in French, trillion refers to 10 to the power of 18

 

 

  • * for 80, write quatre-vingts (with an "s"); for numbers from 81 to 89, the word vingt does not have an "s", e.g.: 82 = quatre-vingt-deux
  • * in a sentence, write numbers lower than 10 with letters, , e.g.: un, deux ... huit, neuf, 10.
  • * when writing larger digits, use a period wiout a space, e.g.: 1.000.000 or simply a space, for example 1 000 000
  • Since the new spelling reform (1990), larger numbers can be joined by hyphens, e.g.: quatre-millards-deux-millions-cent-dix
  • use de after un million or un milliard if a noun follows, e.g.: un million de personnes.
  • traditionally, numbers involving ... et un are written without a hyphen, e.g.: vingt et un. However, since the spelling reform of 1990, writing these with a hyphen is also acceptable (e.g.: vingt-et-un).

Ordinal numbers

 Ordinal numbers allow us to establish an order or rank, e.g.: "first", "second", "third" (premier, deuxième, troisième). The main ordinals in French are:

Ordinal Numbers (1-10)
first premier/première
second deuxième
third troisième
fourth quatrième
fifth cinquième
sixth sixième
seventh septième
eighth huitième
ninth neuvième
tenth dixième

 

Larger Ordinal Numbers
20th vingtième
21st vingt et unième
99th quatre-vingt-neuvième
100th centième
101st cent et unième
1000th  millième
1,000,000th  millionième

 As illustrated above, the main process for forming an ordinal is to add -ième to a number. The main exception is premier/première. Note also that for neuvième the "f" changes to a "v".

Abbreviated Ordinal Numbers

It is common in French to abbreviate ordinal numbers. For example,

  • premier > 1er
  • première > 1re
  • deuxième > 2e
  • troisième > 3e
  • vingtième > 20e

As we can see above, all abbreviations other than 1er and 1re are simply formed by adding "e" to the number.

 

  • in dates, don't use an ordinal other than premier, e.g.: le 2 septembre and NOT le 2e septembre (unless you are referring to a succession of Septembers!)

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