Numerals

(Number words in German grammar)

Table of contents – numerals

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Types of numerals
  2. Further explanations and exercises

What are numerals?

Numerals (in German: Numeralien or Zahlwörter) represent a specified number or amount and are also used for temporal indications. In some instances, they can be utilized like pronouns. Some numerals are declinable and can be inflected.

Information: In terms of grammar, they are not always considered a separate part of speech. Instead, they (at least some of them) may be seen as adjectives.

Different types of numerals (number words) are distinguished. Compare:

  • Cardinal numerals:
    • eins (one), drei (three), fünf (five), …
      • „Ich habe mir drei Bücher gekauft.“ (I've bought three books.)
  • Ordinal numerals:
    • zweiter (second), sechster (sixth), dreizehnter (thirteenth), …
      • „Sie haben sich nun ein zweites Auto gekauft.“ (They have bought a second car now.)
  • Multiplicatives and multipliers:
    • dreifach (threefold, three times), achtfach (eightfold), zehnfach (tenfold), …
      • „Für den Kuchen musst du die dreifache Menge Mehl nehmen.“ (You have to take three times the amount of flour for the cake.)
  • Iterative numerals:
    • einmal (once), viermal (four times), zwanzigmal (twenty times), …
      • „Auf dem Weg nach Hause ist sie zweimal gestolpert.“ (She stumbled twice on the way home.)
  • Fraction numbers:
    • achtel (eighth), drittel (third), halb (half), …
      • „Das halbe Pfund Kaffee ist im Angebot.“ (The half pound of coffee is on sale.)
  • Numerals describing the same kind:
    • einerlei (all the same, of one kind), dreierlei (of three kinds), allerlei (all sorts of), …
      • „Vor der Abreise habe ich noch allerlei Dinge zu erledigen.“ (Before I leave, I still have to do all sorts of things.)
  • Collective numbers:
    • beide (both), zu zweit (the two), zu viert (the four), zu acht (eight of), ein Dutzend (a dozen), ein Paar (a pair), …
      • „Leider hatten beide Spieler kein Glück und verloren.“ (Unfortunately, both players were not lucky and lost.)
  • Indefinite numerals:
    • manche (some), einige (some), etliche (quite a few), ein bisschen (a bit), etwas (some), …
      • Manche Beamte arbeiten nur halbtags.“ (Some civil servants work only part-time.)

Further explanations related to the topic ‘Numerals’

The following explanations relate to the ‘Use and categorization of numerals (numbers) in German grammar’ and could be interesting too: