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First, Second and Third: The Ordinal Numbers

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


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 


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.
Cap. 39, Carlos explica - Los Números - Los Números Ordinales


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 XX, Latinos por el mundo - Chilenas en Venecia 


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.

Numbers

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