Un, deux, trois, quatorze?! How far can you count in French? Learn how to say all the French numbers from 1 to 100.
Trois baguettes, s’il vous plait. You have mastered the numbers from one to ten in French and are feeling confident as the boulanger hands you the three baguettes that you politely requested. You meet up with some new friends for a picnic in the park and, as you are putting a slice of comté on your fresh baguette, someone asks your age. As you awkwardly attempt to communicate using your fingers, you suddenly realize the importance of numbers and wish you had paid more attention in French class, and possibly even in math class.
You have tackled basic French words and now you are ready to begin learning numbers in French. If you are already familiar with “un, deux, trois”, or “one, two, three”, counting in French might seem relatively simple. How hard can it be if “zero” is still zéro in French and the only difference is a small accent? Don’t be fooled. French follows typical counting rules until you reach 70, where things get complicated and stay complicated until you make it to 100. There’s no need to worry: with time and practice counting will soon become second nature. Read on for the rules, tips and a cheat sheet for counting in French.
Numbers 1-10 in French
Let’s start with the numbers 1-10, which are relatively simple and used as building blocks for later on down the counting road.
Quick tip: un or une?
If you have ever listened to people chatting in French, you might have noticed that there are two words for “a/an”, as well as for “one”: un and une. These two different forms correspond to the two different genders for French nouns. Un is masculine and une is feminine. The rule is quite simple: if the object is masculine, you use un and if it’s feminine, you use une. For example, one dog is un chien and one table is une table. When entering a restaurant, it is common to say une table, s’il vous plait to ask for a table.
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Numbers 11-20 in French
Now onto the numbers 11-20, which are slightly irregular but can easily be memorized with a little effort.
Numbers 1-100 in French
French numbers are relatively regular from 20 to 69, as you can see in the chart below. It’s important to take note that in French number spelling, as of 1990, any number made up of two or more words requires dashes or hyphens. Also, only add et to the number one. For all the rest of the numbers until ten, you simply add the number and a hyphen.
Once you hit seventy, French numbers take a wild turn. In French, the number seventy is soixante-dix, or “sixty ten” in English. As you count to eighty, you continue to add using the teens: soixante-douze or “sixty twelve”, soixante-treize or “sixty thirteen”, etc.
Unfortunately, the irregular trend continues and eighty is literally translated as “four twenty”. Unlike seventy, as you count to ninety, you add numbers one to ten. So eighty-two, quatre-vingt-deux, is translated as “four twenty-two”. Following this trend means that ninety, quatre-vingt-dix, is translated as “four twenty ten”. From 90 to 100, ninety-one, for example, is quatre-vingt-onze, or “four twenty eleven”.
|1 un||11 onze||21 vingt- et-un||31 trente-et-un||41 quarante-et-un||51 cinquante-et-un||61 soixante-et-un||71 soixante-et-onze||81 quatre-vingt-un||91 quatre-vingt- onze|
|2 deux||12 douze||22 vingt- deux||32 trente-deux||42 quarante-deux||52 cinquante-deux||62 soixante-deux||72 soixante-douze||82 quatre-vingt- deux||92 quatre-vingt- douze|
|3 trois||13 treize||23 vingt- trois||33 trente- trois||43 quarante-trois||53 cinquante-trois||63 soixante-trois||73 soixante-treize||83 quatre-vingt- trois||93 quatre-vingt- treize|
|4 quatre||14 quatorze||24 vingt- quatre||34 trente-quatre||44 quarante-quatre||54 cinquante-quatre||64 soixante-quatre||74 soixante-quatorze||84 quatre-vingt-quatre||94 quatre-vingt- quatorze|
|5 cinq||15 quinze||25 vingt- cinq||35 trente-cinq||45 quarante-cinq||55 cinquante-cinq||65 soixante-cinq||75 soixante-quinze||85 quatre-vingt- cinq||95 quatre-vingt- quinze|
|6 six||16seize||26 vingt- six||36 trente-six||46 quarante-six||56 cinquante-six||66 soixante-six||76 soixante-seize||86 quatre-vingt-six||96 quatre-vingt- seize|
|7 sept||17dix-sept||27 vingt- sept||37 trente-sept||47 quarante-sept||57 cinquante-sept||67 soixante-sept||77 soixante-dix-sept||87 quatre-vingt- sept||97 quatre-vingt- dix- sept|
|8 huit||18dix-huit||28 vingt- huit||38 trente-huit||48 quarante-huit||58 cinquante-huit||68 soixante-huit||78 soixante-dix-huit||88 quatre-vingt- huit||98 quatre-vingt- dix-huit|
|9 neuf||19dix-neuf||29 vingt- neuf||39 trente-neuf||49 quarante-neuf||59 cinquante-neuf||69 soixante-neuf||79 soixante-dix-neuf||89 quatre-vingt- neuf||99 quatre-vingt- dix-neuf|
|10 dix||20 vingt||30 trente||40 quarante||50 cinquante||60 soixante||70 soixante-dix||80 quatre-vingt||90 quatre- vingt-dix||100 cent|
In other French-speaking countries such as Switzerland and Belgium, an easier system is used.
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3 tips to help you count in French
Over time, counting will become easier and more fluid with practice. Until then, here are three tips to help you learn faster.
Tip #1: Start by learning numbers 1-15, as they are the building blocks on which the other numbers are based. Since these numbers are irregular, the best thing to do is to make flashcards and memorize them.
Tip #2: Learn the multiples of ten: vingt, trente, quarante, cinquante and soixante. These are all regular numbers that only require memorization.
Tip #3: Learn 70-100 by heart. Once they are committed to memory, they will begin to feel more natural. With time and a little memorization, you will soon master counting in French!
Ordinal numbers in French
Ordinal numbers are used all the time in French and come in handy particularly when talking about which Parisian arrondissement (district) you live in.
French numbers to 1000
Thankfully, counting to 1000 is much easier than counting to 100. Simply add the rest of the number to cent or the other hundreds. For example, 126 is cent-vingt-six and 182 is cent-quatre-vingt-deux. Simple, right? To get to 1000, we just follow the same system with the roots of other hundreds.
French numbers to 1 billion or 1 trillion
Even if you aren’t counting to 1 trillion every day, if you ever want to, all you need to know are three new words:
Un million: 1,000,000 (a million)
Un milliard: 1,000,000,000 (a billion)
Un billion: 1,000,000,000,000 (a trillion)
Be careful with milliard and billion. These are false friends and can easily trick you – Beware! Don’t forget that in French, a milliard means billion (not million) and a billion means trillion (not billion).
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