Cardinal numbers

(Using cardinal numbers in English)

Table of contents – cardinal numbers

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Use and spelling of cardinal numbers
  2. List of cardinal numbers
  3. Further explanations and exercises

Use (writing and pronouncing) of cardinal numbers in English

Cardinal numbers are the ‘regular’ numbers in the English language. Although they seem to appear easy in their usage, the following particularities need to be considered:

  • Starting with the basic number one hundred one (101), the conjunction ‘and’ can either be placed in the middle or omitted. By and large, this choice depends on the regional way of speaking, that is:
    • two hundred and twenty-three’ (223)
      • This practice is more commonly used in British English.
    • two hundred twenty-three’ (223)
      • In American English, the number is more common without ‘and’.
  • Numbers from 21 up to including 99 (excluding the full tens like 30, 40, etc.) are written with a hyphen:
    • 27 → ‘twenty-seven
    • 63 → ‘sixty-three
  • With one hundred, one thousand, and one million, either ‘a’ or ‘one’ may be put before the numeral. These numerals rarely appear alone (without determiner) in English. So, we say:
    • a hundred’ or ‘one hundred
    • a thousand’ or ‘one thousand
    • a million’ or ‘one million
  • Numbers from 1100 to 1900 can be spoken as hundreds. This pronunciation is especially the case with years:
    • 1200 → ‘one thousand two hundred
    • 1200 → ‘twelve hundred
  • For the teen numbers (the ones ending in ‘-teen’), i.e., thirteen (13) to nineteen (19), the suffix ‘-teen’ is simply added to the basic number. The syllable stress may vary, but further changes in spelling do not occur. Examples:
    • four’ → ‘fourteen
    • six’ → ‘sixteen
    • Attention: Specialties exist with ‘thirteen, fifteen,’ and ‘eighteen’; see the table below for details.
  • For reasons of separation, the cardinal numbers one thousand (1,000) and greater are usually written with a comma as a separator. To avoid confusion, note that in other languages, a blank space or a point may be possible for visual distinction. Examples:
    • 1,000
    • 12,300,800

List of English cardinal numbers

Spelling – how to write English numbers
Number Written as word Particularity (among others in spelling)
1 one
2 two
3 three
4 four
5 five
6 six
7 seven
8 eight
9 nine
10 ten
11 eleven
12 twelve
13 thirteen* ‘three’ becomes ‘thir-’
14 fourteen
15 fifteen* ‘five’ becomes ‘fif-’
16 sixteen
17 seventeen
18 eighteen* Merely ‘-een’ is appended, as the ‘t’ is already present.
19 nineteen
20 twenty
21 twenty-one
22, 23, … twenty-two, twenty-three, …
30 thirty
35 thirty-five
40 forty* Careful: The ‘u’ is dropped.
45 forty-five* Careful: The ‘u’ in ‘forty’ is dropped.
50 fifty* ‘five’ becomes ‘fif-’
60 sixty
70 seventy
80 eighty* Merely ‘y’ is appended.
90 ninety
100 a/one hundred
101 a/one hundred (and) one
200 two hundred
1,000 a/one thousand
2,457 two thousand four hundred (and) fifty seven
1,000,000 a/one million
1,000,000,000 a/one billion* Info: This number is rarely called ‘milliard’.
1,000,000,000,000 a/one trillion* Careful: This number means ‘a billion’ in many non-English-speaking countries.

Special cases are marked with an asterisk (*) and highlighted in colour.

Further explanations related to the ‘Cardinal numbers in English’

The following explanations relate to the topic ‘Using cardinal numbers in English’ and could therefore be interesting too:

  • The number ‘zero’ in English
  • Units in English
  • List of exercises about numbers, numerals, and time