How to Learn Spanish Numbers

by Jakob Straub
February 11, 2020

Surely you can get as far as un, dos, tres, whether you’ve heard it from Ricky Martin or any other Latin American singer. But how far can you count in Spanish, and can you form ordinal numbers? Learn Spanish numbers and you’ll gain a useful skill that will help you with shopping and ordering, talking about dates and age, telling the time or understanding schedules and idiomatic phrases. Forming numbers is straightforward in Spanish, so let’s get right to it!

How to count in Spanish

There’s no way around it, you have to learn a set of unique number words if you want to count in Spanish. Up to fifteen, each number is a distinct word, with zero being a term of its own, of course. Memorize those and you can apply some basic rules to form a majority of Spanish numbers.

0 zero cero
1 one uno
2 two dos
3 three tres
4 four cuatro
5 five cinco
6 six seis
7 seven siete
8 eight ocho
9 nine nueve
10 ten diez
11 eleven once
12 twelve doce
13 thirteen trece
14 fourteen catorce
15 fifteen quince

To complete the numbers up to twenty, you form the word out of “diez” for ten, “y” for and, plus the last digit, like “seis” for six. However, notice the spelling:

16 sixteen dieciséis
17 seventeen diecisiete
18 eightteen dieciocho
19 nineteen diecinueve
20 twenty veinte

Count to 100 in Spanish

The joining of words and the spelling with “i” for and continues between 20 and 30. After that, you continue to form the numbers with and, however you spell it as three separate words. Knowing that, it’s straightforward to count to one hundred in Spanish.

21 twenty one veinte
22 twenty two veintiuno
23 twenty three veintidós
24 twenty four veintitrés
25 twenty five veinticinco
26 twenty six veintiseis
27 twenty seven veintisiete
28 twenty eight veintiocho
29 twenty nine veintinueve
30 thirty treinta
31, 32, (…) thirty one, thirty two treinta y tres, treinta y dos
40 fourty cuarenta
50 fifty cincuenta
60 sixty sesenta
70 seventy setenta
80 eighty ochente
90 ninety noventa
100 one hundred cien

Listen carefully: there is only a difference of one letter between sixty and seventy, or “sesenta” and “setenta”, which can be difficult to spot with native speakers!

How to learn large numbers in Spanish

For numbers beyond one hundred, you have to remember a new rule: you don’t connect the word for one hundred with “y” for and with the rest of the number. However, the tens and ones are still connected with an “y” as in the table above. For example, one hundred fifty five (155) is “ciento cincuenta y cinco”. Note the epenthesis “o”, which makes the word flow better.

The word “cien” for hundred is a count noun, so as soon as you reach two hundred, you have to pluralize it as “doscientos” (the suffix “s” indicated the plural). Up to “mil”, or one thousand, there are only three irregular numbers: 500, 700, and 900:

100 (one) hundred cien
101, 102, 103 (…) one hundred one, two, three (…) ciento uno, dos, trees (…)
175 one hundred seventy five ciento setenta y cinco
200 two hundred doscientos
300 three hundred trescientos
400 four hundred cuatrocientos
500 five hundred quinientos (irregular)
600 six hundred seiscientos
700 seven hundred setecientos (irregular)
800 eight hundred ochocientos
900 nine hundred novecientos (irregular)
1,000 (one) thousand mil

Even larger numbers can become quite a mouthful to say, but they remain fairly easy to form. As in English, multiples of a thousand just take a digit in front. Likewise, thousand is an uncount noun: it’s “dos mil” for two thousand, not “dos miles”. Yet the word can take a plural, in case you want to say “thousands and thousands”, for example, which is “miles y miles”.

2,000 two thousand dos mil
3,000, 4,000, 5,000 (…) one, two, three thousand (…) uno, dos, tres mil (…)
7,777 seven thousand seven hundred seventy seven siete mil setecientos setenta y siete
10,000 ten thousand diez mil
20,000 twenty veinte mil
100,000 (one) hundred thousand cien mil
500,000 five hundred thousand quinientos mil
783,382 seven hundred thousand three hundred eighty two setecientos mil trescientos ochenta y dos
1,000,000 (one) million un millón
2,000,000, 3,000,000 (…) two, three million (…) dos, tres millones (…)

As you can see in the table above, “millón” (a million) is again a count noun with the plural “millones”. Note that in combination with a noun, you have to use “de” (of) to refer to what you’re counting. So “two million dollars” becomes “dos millones de dolares” (two millions of dollars).

Also note that the decimal separator and the thousand delimiter are reversed in Spanish, so you’d write two million as “2.000.000” and “one and a half” as “1.5”.

Unlike English, which uses the short scale numbering system, Spanish like many languages, uses the long scale system, which means that “billón” or “trillón” don’t match up with the English billion and trillion–these words are false friends!

106 million un millón
109 billion un millardo / mil millones
1012 trillion un billón
1015 quadrillion mil billones
1018 quintillion un trillón
1021 sextillion mil trillones

How to learn ordinal numbers in Spanish

The last challenge is to name the order of things in Spanish. For this we’ll have a look at the ordinal numbers. Again, the first ten you’ll just have to learn by heart.

first primero
second segundo
third tercero
fourth cuarto
fifth quinto
sixth sexto
seventh séptimo
eighth octavo
ninth noveno
tenth décimo

For ordinal numbers beyond that, you have to learn the multiples of ten first, then you can form combinations.

twentieth vigésimo
thirtieth trigésimo
fortieth cuadragésimo
fiftieth quincuagésimo
sixtieth sexagésimo
seventieth septuagésimo
eightieth octogésimo
ninetieth nonagésimo
hundredth centésimo
thousandth milésimo

The twenty second then becomes “vigésimo segundo”, while “quincuagésimo quinto” is the fifty fifth.

More rules for Spanish numbers

There are a few things to remember when forming and using numbers in Spanish:

  • Don’t forget that the number one has to agree with the gender of the noun if you count something: it’s “un libro” (one book, which is masculine), but “una persona” (one person, feminine). One by itself is “uno”, as in “tengo uno” (I have one).
  • “Un” is also the indefinite article: “one book” and “a book” is the same in Spanish, “un libro”.
  • If you have exactly one hundred of something, you use “cien” (100). “Ciento” is used to form a larger number, such as “ciento uno” (101).
  • Unlike other numbers, the ordinal numbers have to agree with the gender as well. It’s “el cuarto libro” (the fourth book), but “la segunda persona” (the second person). “Primero” and “tercero” drop the “o” before a singular masculine noun: “el primer hijo” (the first son).
  • You can use ordinal numbers to form fractions, as in “un cuarto” (a quarter) or “un octavo” (an eight). Again, these will have to agree with the gender of any noun you place after. However, half is expressed as “medio” o “media”, as in “media naranja” (half an orange).

If you’d like to put the theory into practise, visit the Lingoda website and sign up for your free 7-day trial with our native Spanish speaking teachers. 

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