Ordinal Numbers in Spanish

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  • 0:01 What Are Ordinal Numbers?
  • 2:12 Ordinal Numbers Gender…
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ashley Garcias-Casas
First, second, and third place trophies; the fifth person in line; the eighth car in the race - we have seen cardinal numbers, and now it's time to learn ordinal numbers. These are the numbers that allow us to express the order or position of something.

What Are Ordinal Numbers?

Imagine you're at a horse race. The horses are coming 'round the bend to the finishing line, and we have a photo finish! In first place, we have Lucky 7; second place goes to Whispering Wind; and in third place, Sporty. First, second, third. In this case, we would never say 'one,' 'two' and 'three' place. That's because we don't use the cardinal numbers (1, 2, 3 , 4, etc.) to express order but rather ordinal numbers (like first, second, third). The first horse was Lucky 7, the second was Whispering Wind and the third was Sporty.

Both types of numbers exist in Spanish as well. Los números cardinales (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.) are used to count or express quantity. Los números ordinales (ordinal numbers) are used to show the order of things in a set or to express rank or position. Let's take a look at the ordinal numbers in Spanish from first to tenth.

primero

segundo

tercero

cuarto

quinto

sexto

séptimo

octavo

noveno

décimo

In English, we differentiate cardinal numbers and ordinal numbers by the use of 'st,' which is derived from first. Similarly, we have 2nd, 3rd, etc.

In Spanish, these numbers are differentiated in a similar fashion:

1 uno primero
2 dos segundo
3 tres tercero
4 cuatro cuarto
5 cinco quinto
6 seis sexto
7 siete séptimo
8 ocho octavo
9 nueve noveno
10 diez 10° décimo

Ordinal Numbers Gender Agreement

Just like cardinal numbers, when expressing the quantity of a certain object, when we are stating the order of a specific noun, we have to make sure the gender of the number matches the gender of the noun. Let's take a look at how these numbers change if we are talking about a masculine noun - coche, for example.

Primero - now, I don't want to say 'first,' but 'first car.' In Spanish, first and third are modified slightly when they are paired with a masculine noun. The other ordinal numbers (second car, fourth car, fifth car) maintain the 'o' ending to agree with the masculine noun, coche.

El primer coche

El segundo coche

El tercer coche

El cuarto coche

El quinto coche

El sexto coche

El séptimo coche

El octavo coche

El noveno coche

El décimo coche

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