Mastering numbers in French is quite an art. To achieve this, you must be methodical in your learning. Successful learning requires systematic repetition of words and numbers.
Are you afraid of mispronouncing French numbers? We’ll give you a few pointers to help you count from 1 to 100 like a native French speaker!
Reminder: The Arabic numerals (Chiffres in French) go from 0 to 9 in French. A number (Nombre in French) is composed of several digits (Chiffres). In this case, 10 is a “Nombre” and not a “Chiffre”. In English, 5 or 15 are a number there is no word to differentiate the two.
Table of Contents
List of French Numbers from 0 to 100
In the previous article, we showed you how to count from 0 to 10 in French. There is nothing wrong with a little more detailed reminder for better assimilation of your knowledge.
Counting from 0 to 10
Here are the numbers in French to count from 0 to 10:
Counting from 10 to 19
First difficulty with the dozens in French. Starting from 17 to 19 you need to do the addition of 10 + 7 and so on…
Counting from 20 to 29
Counting from 30 to 39
Counting from 40 to 49
Counting from 50 to 59
Counting from 60 to 69
Counting from 70 to 79
Here begins the second difficulty with 70. You have to add 60 plus 10 and so on (60 + 11, +12, +13, …).
Counting from 80 to 89
Here is the third difficulty with 80. You need to make a multiplication (4 x 20) then add 1 and so on (+2, +3, +4,+…).
Counting from 90 to 100
Here is the fourth difficulty with 90. You need to make a multiplication (4 x 20) then adding 10 and so on (+11, +12, +13,+…). It is necessary to know that the French do not realize the difficulty because they learned the numbers from the youngest age.
Interesting Facts about French Numbers
Know that for the French numbers, we have two forms for the cardinals 70 and 90. These two forms come from different ways of counting numbers. It is a system of numeration whose base is 10. Thus, it is the decimal system, already used in Latin. It raises forms in -ante as :
- Soixante – 60
- Septante – 70
- Huitante ou octante – 80
- Nonante – 90
In case you hear the French numbers: septante and nonante, do not be surprised. Indeed, it is the French speakers in Belgium and Switzerland who use it today. Interesting fact: these pronunciations were still current and popularized in the counties of France bordering Alsace, Switzerland, and Italy. You can also hear huitante, but only in Switzerland.
We also note a numbering system that has the base 20. These French numbers are based on the vigesimal system. To show that you are cultured, it would be interesting to remember it. For example, the French number:
- Three-twenty for 60
- Three-twenty plus ten for 70
- Four-twenty for 80
Some Examples of Large Numbers in French
A tip that will come in handy when writing large numbers: you must not forget to separate the classes. This means units, thousands, millions, and finally billions. This will make it easier to read. For example, you should not write 1234569, to make it easier to read, you need 1 234 569. Here is a list of examples of large numbers that can be found in the French language:
- 150 : cent-cinquante [sɑ̃ sɛ̃kɑ̃t]
- 630 : six-cent-trente [sis sɑ̃ tʁɑ̃t]
- 1 100 : mille-cent [mil cent]
- 1 000 000 : un million [miljɔ̃] …
The Rules to Apply to Count in French
There are grammatical rules to put into practice to master the large family of French numbers. These rules can be complex at first, but as you learn them, you will eventually master them.
Dashes and Commas: Things to Know
As you may have noticed earlier, in the traditional spelling, the elementary names are connected by hyphens. Some are also connected by the conjunction “et”, such as:
- 35: Trente-cinq
- 51: cinquante-et-un …
In France, this spelling is accepted but it is no longer taught. For the simple reason that now, the rectified spelling is used as a reference. Among these new rules, the French numbers 20 and 100 take the plural mark, so they end with an “s” when they are multiplied. The same is true if they end with a number. When a number is used to indicate a page number, a date, an address, or a bus route number, then it is invariable. This means that it does not change!
A Look Back at the 1990 Report
It is from the 1990 report on spelling corrections that new rules have been applied concerning hyphens for French numbers. Compound numbers should be written with hyphens between each element.
What about Grammatical Agreements?
As previously stated, French numbers are generally invariant except for vingt (20) and cent (100). Let us specify that numbers are invariable in gender. One exception is when used as a determiner, where the masculine or feminine gender must be specified. For example, we have “un vélo”, “une voiture”.
Two Exceptions for Cardinal Adjectives
Reminder: the cardinal numerical adjectives indicate the number, the quantity like 4, 12. They are invariable except for un which becomes une (feminine form), and vingt (20) and cent (100) which sometimes take an s.
The only grammatical rule that varies twenty (vingt) is only in the writing of eighty (quatre-vingts). It is the same when it is not followed by another cardinal adjective. The number one hundred also varies only once followed by another cardinal adjective.
General Rule for Ordinal Adjectives
Reminder: The ordinal adjective indicates a specific rank. For example, c’est le quatrième musicien de la soirée (= he is the fourth musician of the evening). We simply add the suffix -ième to the cardinal numeral determiner:
|Un / One||Unième / First|
|Deux / Two||Deuxième / Second|
|Trois / Three||Troisième / Third|
|Quatre / Four||Quatrième (e removed) / Fourth|
|Cinq / Five||Cinqième / Fifth|
|Six / Six||Sixième / Sixth|
|Sept / Seven||Septième / Seventh|
|Huit / Eight||Huitième / Eighth|
|Neuf / Nine||Neuvième (the f replaced by a v) / Ninth|
|Dix / Ten||Dixième / Tenth|
|And so on…|
A general rule for ordinal adjectives is that vingt (twenty) and cent (one hundred) do not vary. That is why we write: la page quatre-vingt ou encore la page trois-cent (page eighty or page three hundred) and not la page quatre-vingtième ou encore la page trois-centième.
Correct use of the Coordinating Conjunction
The coordinating conjunction “et” is used in the lower French compound numbers. It is used to link the ten to the unit un (1) or onze (11). However, it is not used in quatre-vingt-un or quatre-vingt-onze. An interesting and amusing fact is that the conjunction “et” is sometimes found in a literary context. You’ve probably heard someone say, « J’ai mille et une choses à faire. » (= I have a thousand and one things to do).
Finally, now that you know the different grammatical rules that rule the writing of French numbers, it is certain that you will no longer easily fall into certain traps.
Let’s always remember that to be able to speak a language in a general way, it is imperative to practice by practicing as often as possible.