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# Cardinal Numbers by Julie Gutin

Spanish employs cardinal and ordinal numerals (as does English). You are probably more familiar with the cardinals—numerals that express quantity and are used for counting: one, two, three, and so on. In fact, Spanish often uses cardinal numerals even when American English would choose ordinals—numerals that show the order of an item in a given series: first, second, third, and so on.

## The Basics: 0–15

The single-digit numbers 1 through 9 are the most utilized in Spanish because they are employed alone and within larger numbers. All you really need to do is memorize the first nine, plus the word for 0 and 10 through 15; the rest is a matter of combining what you already know. When simply counting, numerals stand alone. Treat them as you would pronouns:

Numbers 0–15

When enumerating items, however, the numeral is acting as an adjective and precedes the items enumerated. Any number above uno requires the use of the plural form of the item (see Chapter 4 for rules on how to add plural endings to nouns). Keep in mind that the actual numeral employed will not be in the plural form for quantities less than 200. For example:

 un sacerdote one priest una bebida one drink cinco dedos five fingers cinco quejas five complaints ocho vestidos eight dresses ocho cortinas eight curtains

The cardinal number as a preceding adjective often enumerates the quantity of items. When the cardinal number follows the item(s), it is limiting the discussion to the item in the position described by the number. For example: cinco volúmenes (five volumes), as opposed to volumen cinco (volume five).

## Moving On: 16–99

Double-digit numbers are formed similarly to the way they are formed in English. For example, “21” is “twenty-one.” If you know the words for “twenty,” “thirty,” “forty,” and so on, as well as how to count from 1 to 9, you will be able to come up with any number from 1 to 100.

It is pretty much the same in Spanish. First, you need to learn the numbers divisible by 10:

The rules are slightly different for numbers 16 through 29 than for 30 through 99. Take a look at how the numbers 16 through 29 are formed:

For numbers 30 through 99, the rule is exactly the same, and there is no need to combine the number into one word: The two components remain connected by a y (and). Here are a few examples:

 36 treinta y seis 48 cuarenta y ocho 59 cincuenta y nueve 81 ochenta y uno

## Next Up: Hundreds

In Spanish, you rarely if ever say “one hundred”—instead, you simply say cien (hundred). Any number between 101 and 199 uses the term ciento in combination with the numerals specified in the previous section. Notice that a conjunction is not used between the “hundred” and “ten” words:

 116 ciento dieciséis 131 ciento treinta y uno 177 ciento setenta y siete

Multiples of 100 are cientos. To create a specific number of “hundred” units, all you really need to do is combine the number of 100s with cientos:

Notice that the words for 500, 700, and 900 do not follow the regular numeral + cientos pattern. To review, they are: quinientos (500), setecientos (700), and novecientos (900).

It follows, then, that for numbers 201 to 999, the process for putting together the numbers goes like this:

 206 doscientos seis 331 trescien tos trein ta y uno 447 cuatrocientos cuarenta y siete 650 seiscientos cincuenta 809 ochocientos nueve

Keep in mind: You should use y only between the “tens” and the “units” values. Otherwise, the y is omitted (so, treinta y ocho, but trescientos ochenta). Also, the numbers containing “hundreds” parts do conform to the gender of the nouns they modify. For example: trescientas casas (300 homes), quinientas veintiuna quejas (521 complaints).

## Moreover: Thousands

Like cien, mil (thousand) generally exists without a preceding article. Unlike ciento, however, mil does not take on any endings when it is part of a number. For any number of thousands above 1,000, simply place the number of thousands before mil (dos mil, tres mil, and so on). For example:

 1,216 mil doscientos dieciséis 2,331 dos mil trescien tos trein ta y uno 3,477 tres mil cuatrocientos setenta y siete 5,000 cinco mil 45,783 cuarenta y cinco mil setecientos ochenta y tres

Spanish provides two equivalent constructions to express the collective noun “thousands”—miles de + noun or millares de + noun. For example: Miles de personas votan. Millares de personas votan. (Thousands of people vote.) Preference for one expression over the other is largely a regional issue.

Note that when you write in Spanish, you use a period instead of a comma to separate the digits in numbers greater than 1,000, and vice versa for the sign used to denote decimal points.

Period and Comma in Spanish Numbers

 Spanish English 3.000 3,000 (three thousand) 4,7 4.7 (four point seven)

## Last but Not Least: Millions and Beyond

This is a time to recall the warning on misleading cognates from the first chapter. Though some Spanish and American English numbers do coincide (like million and millón), larger numbers do not. Compare:

 millón million mil millones one billion billon one trillion

Use the following examples to practice what you have just learned.

 1,000,001 un millón uno 2,000,002 dos millones dos 1,000,000,345 mil millones, trescientos cuarenta y cinco 14,500,900,005 catorce mil quinientos millones, novecientos mil, cinco 1,000,100,700,000 un billón, cien millones, setecientos mil

A subtle change in meaning occurs when you begin using numbers in the millions and larger. You already know that “hundreds” and “thousands” no longer describe the quantity of things, but that they themselves become the objects of discussion. This is generally true of one million and beyond. Whereas you can say cien mujeres (100 women), you cannot say un millón mujeres—the correct phrase would be un millón de mujeres (one million women), where de mujeres describes the million. If you are talking of an unspecified number of books ranging in the millions, then you would say millones de libros.

With regard to the use of a number as an adjective or a noun, de is inserted between a specific number and the accompanying items only for numbers specified to the nearest (whole) million and above. For example: dos millones de pesos (two million pesos), but dos millones tres pesos (two million and three pesos).

## Practice Counting

First, practice recognizing Spanish numbers that you encounter. Below, fill in the correct digits of a number expressed in Spanish.

 1 dieciocho _____________ 2 veintidós _____________ 3 cincuenta y cuatro _____________ 4 noventa y tres _____________ 5 ciento catorce _____________ 6 doscientos setenta y nueve _____________ 7 quinientos sesenta y dos _____________ 8 setecientos treinta y cinco _____________

Next, practice translating from English into Spanish:

 1. 18 _______________________ 2. 89 _______________________ 3. 226 _______________________ 4. 345 _______________________ 5. 1,512 _______________________ 6. 10,587 _______________________ 7. 22,713 _______________________ 8. 3,080,000 _______________________

Find answers to these exercises.

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#### THE EVERYTHING LEARNING SPANISH BOOK

By Julie Gutin

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