As we touched upon in the last post: in the Spanish language, nouns have a grammatical gender. This means things can be either masculine or feminine. Typically adjectives must “agree” with the gender of the noun within the sentence. So, if we’re talking about a masculine noun, we must use the masculine form of the adjective. Equally if the noun is feminine, a feminine adjective must be used.
Numbers are no exception to this rule, and must also agree with the noun gender.
Luckily with Spanish numbers, gender agreement doesn’t add too much complexity to proceedings, as most numbers are in fact common in their form. Which means, the same form is used if masculine or feminine. There are a few exceptions to this though, but we will highlight and discuss them as we go. Cardinal numbers from 0 to 20 | Los números cardinales de 0 a 20
The table below contains the names of first 21 cardinal numbers in Spanish. All forms are the same for both masculine and feminine unless otherwise highlighted.
|0 - cero ||7 - siete ||14 - catorce |
|1 - uno ||8 - ocho ||15 - quince |
|2 - dos ||9 - nueve ||16 - dieciséis |
|3 - tres ||10 - diez ||17 - diecisiete |
|4 - cuatro ||11 - once ||18 - dieciocho |
|5 - cinco ||12 - doce ||19 - diecinueve |
|6 - sies ||13 - trece ||20 - veinte |
Notice we have highlighted the number one, as this is our first example of gender agreement. The masculine form for the number one is as shown “uno”, but the feminine form is “una”.
In addition to this, when numbers ending in one (1, 21, 31, 41 etc but NOT 11) are placed directly before a masculine noun, then the “uno” part becomes “un”.
Examples are: “un hombre” (one man), “una mujer” (one woman), “sólo hay uno" (there's only one), "treinta y un euros" (thirty one euros) Cardinal numbers from 21 to 100 | Los números cardinales de 21 a 100
Let's look at the remaining cardinal numbers in Spanish up to 100.
|21 - veintiuno ||28 - veintiocho ||40 - cuarenta |
|22 - veintidós ||29 - veintinueve ||50 - cincuenta |
|23 - veintitrés ||30 - treinta ||60 - sesenta |
|24 - veinticuatro ||31 - treinta y uno ||70 - setenta |
|25 - veinticinco ||32 - treinta y dos ||80 - ochenta |
|26 - veintiséis ||33 - treinta y tres ||90 - noventa |
|27 - veintisiete ||34 - treinta y cuatro ||100 - cien |
Again notice, we've highlighted the numbers ending in one as a reminder that they must agree with the noun they refer to. Cardinal numbers from 101 and beyond | Los números cardinales de 101 y más allá
Finally, let's look at the remaining numbers in Spanish up to a billion.
|101 - ciento y uno ||300 - trescientos ||800 - ochocientos |
|102 - ciento y dos ||400 - cuatrocientos ||900 - novecientos |
|103 - ciento y tres ||500 - quinientos ||1,000 - mil |
|200 - doscientos ||600 - seiscientos ||Million - millón |
|201 - doscientos y uno ||700 - setecientos ||Billion - mil millones |
The Spanish word for "one hundred" is “cien”, but for the numbers between 101 and 199, the form of the hundred part changes to be “ciento”. This is gender common. So whilst numbers ending in one (except 111) are affected by gender, the “ciento” part is not.
That is to say: it does NOT become “cienta” when feminine.
For example: “ciento y un hombres” (101 men) and “ciento y una mujeres” (101 women).
In contrast to this, the numbers 200 to 900 do need gender agreement and thus change.
For example: “cuatrocientos hombres” (400 men) and “cuatrocientas mujeres” (400 women).
Look out for some irregular spelling, particularly with 500, 700 and 900.
In Spanish, the words for “one hundred” and “one thousand”, do not contain the word “one”. So you never write “un cien” or “un mil”, it’s just “cien” and “mil”.
The plural of “mil” is “miles”. However you CANNOT say “dos miles”, it is still “dos mil”. The only time you can use the plural form is when asking how many thousands, then you can ask “¿cuántos miles?”
The plural of “millón” is “millones”, and unlike “mil" the plural form is used in general.
For example: "un millón de euros" (one million euros) and "dos millones de euros" (two million euros). Ordinal numbers | Los números ordenales
Ordinal numbers describe the order in which something occurs. For example: First, second, third etc... We can treat the ordinal numbers just like regular adjectives in Spanish, whereby they must both agree with gender and plurality.
| || || || || |
|first ||primero ||primera ||primeros ||primeras ||second ||segundo ||segunda ||segundos ||segundas ||third ||tercero ||tercera ||terceros ||terceras ||forth ||cuarto ||cuarta ||cuartos ||cuartas ||fifth ||quinto ||quinta ||quintos ||quintas ||sixth ||sexto ||sexta ||sextos ||sextas ||seventh ||séptimo ||séptima ||séptimos ||séptimas ||eighth ||octavo ||octava ||octavos ||octavas ||nineth ||noveno ||novena ||novenos ||novenas ||tenth ||décimo ||décima ||décimos ||décimas |
In addition to the above forms. First and third have a shortened form “primer” and “tercer” respectively. These may be used in front of word as a masculine singular form. For example: “tercer premio” (third prize).
In English the ordinal numbers can be abbreviated to be 1st
etc… In Spanish we can do similar, but the abbreviation takes on the form of both gender and plurality. Thus: 1.o
= primero, 1.a
= primera, 1.os
= primeros, 1.as
= primeras, 1.er
= primer, 2.o
= segundo and so on... What time is it? | Qué hora es?
If we remember back to the last post. We discovered that in Spanish, we don’t literally ask the time, we ask the hour. As the hour (la hora) has a feminine gender, when we tell the time we make our numbers agree with this fact.
The easiest way to demonstrate this is with some examples:
|Spanish ||Meaning ||Literal translation |
|“es la una” ||it's one (o'clock) ||it's the one |
|“son las dos” ||it's two (o'clock) ||they are the two |
|“son las cinco y media” ||it's half past five ||they are the five and half |
Hopefully the above examples help to illustrate that “1 o'clock”, “2 o'clock”, “5 o'clock” etc, in Spanish are expressed as “la una”, “las dos”, “las cinco” and so on.
In Spanish, to express the concept of “o’clock”. We are literally saying “the”, in feminine form, followed by the number (also feminine). Combined, they imply that we are talking about the hour, even though it’s never said.
The following are some more examples of expressing the time:
|Spanish ||Meaning ||Literal translation |
|“son las siete en punto” ||it's seven o'clock ||they are the seven on point |
|“son las once menos cuarto” ||it's a quarter to eleven ||they are the eleven less a quarter |
|“son las tres menos cinco” ||it's five to three ||they are the three less five |
|“es mediodía” ||it's noon (midday) ||it is middle day |
|“es medianoche” ||it's midnight ||it is middle night |
Notice above, we use the construction “en punto” (on point) to mean “o’clock”. Although a nice way to think of it is, as the English expression “on the dot!”.
Also notice in the above examples, midnight is feminine, yet midday is masculine. So we can see, not everything to do with the time is feminine. In fact, only the hour, the morning, the afternoon and the night are deemed feminine. Whilst the minutes, the seconds and the day itself are masculine.
For example: “He won the race in one hour, one minute and one second” could be said as “ganó la carrera en una hora, un minuto y un segundo”. Here we can see the word “one” appears three times, once in feminine form and twice as masculine. Dates and Numbers | Fechas y Números
Numbers in the form of dates are expressed in Spanish a little differently to English.
In English we use ordinal numbers from 1st
to express the days of the month. In Spanish we don't use ordinal numbers, so a date like May 6th
is written as “6 de mayo” and not “6.o
Thus, if you are asked what day of the month it is, you would reply: “el seis” and not “el sexto”. Remember: Days are masculine.
In English we tend to say the year irregularly. Examples are: “Twenty-eighteen" for 2018, “Nineteen eighty-four” for 1984 and even "Nineteen hundred” for 1900.
However, if you described years irregualrly in Spanish, you would probably not be understood. In Spanish the years must be expressed as full numbers. So, 1984 literally must be: “One thousand nine hundred and eighty-four” or “Mil novecientos ochenta y cuatro”. Commas, decimal points and money | Comas, puntos y dinero.
In English we use commas to separate groups of 3 numbers starting at one thousand (1,000). We also use a full-stop (period or dot) also known as a decimal point before the fractional part of numbers.
In Spanish, these are reversed. Commas represent the decimal point, and full-stops separate groups of 3 numbers.
Representing values of money is a great example of this. In English we might write £1,999.95 or $1,000,000.00. Whereas in Spanish, you would write 1.999,95€ or 1.000.000,00€.
Today, the Euro € is the official currency of Spain. Notice from the above example, the € sign is appended to the end of the value, whereas in English, the £ or $ sign precedes the value.
When describing fractional amounts of money, we also notice some differences. For example in English, we might say “four pounds and ten pence” or “eight dollars and fifty cents”. In Spanish, we use the word “with” instead of “and” before the fractional part. So literally, “five euros with twenty cents” or “cinco euros con veinte centimos”, which can be shortened to “cinco con veinte”. Final thoughts | Pensamientos finales
Arguably, numbers are some of the most important words any newcomer to Spanish should learn as soon as possible. Each word can simply be learnt as a piece of vocabulary. This said, take the time to fully understand gender agreement within the context of numbers as this concept extends to all areas of the Spanish language.