Lecciones de Español


Lessons for topic Numbers

Primero, Segundo and Tercero: Ordinal Numbers in Spanish

Let’s talk about numbers today. Ordinal numbers such as "first," "second," and "third," express position, order or succession in a series. Let's take a look at some of the rules that you need to keep in mind when using ordinal numbers in Spanish.


The first ten ordinals are very often used in spoken Spanish so let’s take a moment to review them: Primero (first), segundo (second), tercero (third), cuarto (fourth), quinto(fifth), sexto (sixth),

séptimo (seventh), octavo (eighth), noveno (ninth) and décimo (tenth).
Generally speaking, the ordinal numbers in Spanish go before the noun and agree in gender and number with the noun they are describing:

Las primeras imágenes que veo son impactantes, la verdad,

The first images that I see are shocking, truthfully,

Caption 34, Iker Casillas - apoya el trabajo de Plan

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A very important rule regarding the ordinals primero (first) and tercero (third) is that they drop the final ‘o’ before a masculine noun:


Y por ejemplo este nuevo disco es vuestro tercer disco creo... tercero o cuarto.

And for example this new record is your third record I believe... Third or fourth.

Caption 65, Bajofondo Tango Club - Mar Dulce - Part 1

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Ordinal numbers can be simple or compound. Simple ordinals have their own form while compound ordinals are made by joining simple numbers. The ordinal numbers “eleventh” and “twelfth” are unique in Spanish because they can have both simple and compound forms. For example, we could write the ordinal “twelfth” as a simple number (duodécimo) or as a compound one (décimo segundo):

En el dos mil diecisiete, El Real Madrid ganó su décima segunda '"Champions".

In two thousand seventeen, Real Madrid won its twelfth championship.

Caption 39, Carlos explica - Los Números: Números Ordinales

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Also, let’s remember that we use ordinal numbers for sovereign figures like kings, queens and popes. In this case, the ordinals are placed after the noun they describe:

Fuimos a la beatificación del Papa Juan Pablo Segundo.

We went to the beatification of Pope John Paul the Second.

Caption 9, Latinos por el mundo - Chilenas en Venecia

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That's it for now. Remember to memorize and practice the first 10 ordinals as they are commonly used in everyday language! And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to newsletter@yabla.com.

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Los números del 1 al 100

Learning the numbers from 1 to 100 in Spanish is a very straightforward task. In fact, our friends at El Aula Azul created a very useful video to aid us with the basics. While you will see that it isn't really necessary to memorize every digit from 1 to 100, we'll give you a couple of tips to keep in mind.

1 to 10

OK, these you do need to memorize! The numbers from 1 to 10 are as follows: uno (1), dos (2), tres (3), cuatro (4), cinco (5), seis (6), siete (7), ocho (8), nueve (9), and diez (10). We suggest that you practice them by saying them aloud a number of times.

11 to 29

The numbers from 11 through 29 also require some memorization, specifically those from 11 through 20, which are as follows: once (11), doce (12), trece (13), catorce (14), and quince (15). Then, you will notice that there is a basic pattern to form the following digits: you can simply take diez (10) or veinte (20) and follow them with y plus the corresponding single digit to form your desired number. For example, if 10 is diez, and 6 is seis, then 16 is "diez y seis." Similarly, if 20 is veinte and 4 is cuatro, then 24 must be "veinte y cuatro." Right? Well, almost! A little trick will help you to learn to spell the names of the numbers 16 through 19 as well as 21 through 29 correctly. Although those numbers were previously spelled as two words, their modern spellings are now preferred: 16 is written "dieciséis," 19 is "diecinueve," 29 is "veintinueve," and so on. But wait- there's a pattern here as well. While the numbers 16 through 19 employ the prefix dieci (rather than diez y) followed by 6 through 9, the digits 21 through 29 use "veinti" (not "veinte y") plus the numbers 1 through 9. Voilá! The number 16 is therefore spelled dieciséis while 24 is veinticuatro.


30 to 100

The good news is that after treinta (30), the previous spelling returns, and you can once again use the basic pattern: 31 is "treinta y uno," 48 is "cuarenta y ocho," etc. The only thing left to memorize are the numbers corresponding to las decenas (the multiples of ten), in other words: veinte (20), treinta (30), cuarenta (40), cincuenta (50), sesenta (60), setenta (70), ochenta (80), noventa (90), and cien (100). Our trusty pattern can then be utilized to figure out any other number in between: cuarenta y uno (41), sesenta y dos (62), ochenta y ocho (88), noventa y cuatro (94), etc.

We hope you enjoy learning the numbers in Spanish!


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