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Numbers are generally used for specifying amounts and in mathematics: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. You have undoubtedly encountered them in many forms. Let’s first review cardinal numbers:

9nine100one hundred
10ten101one hundred one
11eleven102one hundred two
12twelve200two hundred
13thirteen500five hundred
14fourteen1,000one thousand
15fifteen2,000two thousand
16sixteen10,000ten thousand
17seventeen11,000eleven thousand
18eighteen20,000twenty thousand
19nineteen100,000one hundred thousand
20twenty111,111one hundred eleven thousand one hundred eleven

Careful! English names for certain large numbers differ from those in other languages:


When numbers are used in equations, there are specific mathematical terms to be used. In addition, numbers are combined by either the word plus or the word and: five plus three, ten and nine.

  • In subtraction, the equation requires using the word minus (–): ten minus four.
  • In multiplication, the equation requires using the word times (×): six times three.
  • In division, the equation requires the phrase divided by (÷ or /): twenty divided by five.
  • If an equation has an equal sign (=) in it, it is stated as equals or is: two plus two equals four, six minus three is three.
  • If a number is a decimal, the decimal is expressed by the word point: 6.5 is said as “six point five”; 10.7 is said as “ten point seven.”

The ordinal numbers are those that show a rank in a group or series. Most ordinals are formed by adding -th to the end of the number: tenthtwentiethsixty-seventhhundredth, and so on. But five ordinal numbers have special spellings which should be memorized:

  • 1 = first
  • 2 = second
  • 3 = third
  • 5 = fifth
  • 12 = twelfth

Some example sentences with ordinal numbers:

  • We have three daughters, but Denise was our first.
  • The second seating for dinner is at 8:30 P.M.
  • She was born on the twenty-fifth of June.

Dates are expressed in two ways: May fifth or the fifth of May. When giving a date as a number, it is most common to give the month before the day: 9/11 = September eleventh, 6/12 = June twelfth. In many other languages, the day precedes the month. This can cause confusion, because to some people 6/12 means “the sixth of December.” To English speakers it most commonly means “June twelfth.” To avoid such confusion, it is wise to give dates in this form: June 12, 2005.

Ordinals are also used to express fractions other than ½:

  • ½ = one-half (not an ordinal)
  • ¼ = one-fourth (Note: One-fourth is sometimes expressed as “one-quarter” or “a quarter.”)
  • ⅓ = one-third
  • 3/10 = three-tenths
  • 14/25 = fourteen twenty-fifths (Notice the plural formation of the ordinal when the accompanying number is greater than one.)

Years that precede 2000 are expressed in two parts: 1850 is said as “eighteen fifty,”

1066 is said as “ten sixty-six.” The years that follow 1999 are said another way:

2000two thousand
2001two thousand one, or twenty oh one
2002two thousand two, or twenty oh two
2010two thousand ten, or twenty ten
2022two thousand twenty-two, or twenty twenty-two

When saying on what date an event occurred, the word on is optional:

  • The boy was born on May first.
  • The boy was born May first.

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