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How to Say and Write Big Numbers in Spanish

Are you good with big numbers? How many zeros do you need to write one billion? What about one trillion? In this lesson, we will talk about big numbers in Spanish. Do you know how to say one billion in Spanish? Un billón, right? Well... not so fast! Let's learn how to say and write big numbers in Spanish.

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Big Numbers in English

Before we talk about big numbers in Spanish, let's review some of the most common big numbers in English. Let's take a look:

 

One million (1,000,000)- Six zeros

One billion (1,000,000,000)- Nine zeros

One trillion (1,000,000,000,000)- Twelve zeros

One quadrillion (1,000,000,000,000,000)- Fifteen zeros

One quintillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000)- Eighteen zeros

 

Big Numbers in Spanish

Now that we have reviewed big numbers in English, it is time to talk about big numbers in Spanish. One important thing to keep in mind: According to the Real Academia Española (RAE), like in English, numbers with more than four digits must be written out in groups of three starting from the right. However, if you want to write 2,450 in Spanish, the appropriate manner to do so would be 2 450 since spaces are used in lieu of commas in big numbers in Spanish. Keep in mind, however, that there are some exceptions to this rule, such as years, page numbers, zip codes, laws/decrees, etc. With that said, let's see the Spanish equivalents of the numbers we previously covered:

 

Un millón (1 000 000)- Six zeros

Un millardo (1 000 000 000)- Nine zeros

Un billón (1 000 000 000 000)- Twelve zeros

Mil billones (1 000 000 000 000 000)- Fifteen zeros

Un trillón (1 000 000 000 000 000 000)- Eighteen zeros

 

Note that for some of these numbers, there is one more than one acceptable Spanish term you might opt for:

 

Un millardo = mil millones

Un billón = un millón de millones

Un trillón = un milllón de billones = un millón de millón de millones

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List of Big Numbers in English and Spanish

Did you notice anything unusual when comparing the Spanish and English lists? You may have realized that "one billion" in English is not un billón en Spanish, but rather un millardo, while the English "one trillion" is actually un billón in Spanish rather than un trillón. This is because the Spanish words billión and trillón come from the French words billion and trillion, which correspond to the numbers we indicated above (with 12 and 18 zeros, respectively). 

 

To further clarify this somewhat confusing point, let's take a look at the following list featuring big numbers in English and their Spanish equivalents:

 

One million in English is un millón in Spanish.

One billion in English is un millardo or mil millones in Spanish.

One trillion in English is un billón or un millón de millones in Spanish.

One quadrillion in English is mil billones in Spanish.

One quintillion in English is un trillón or un millón de billones or un millón de millón de millones in Spanish. 

 

Now that you've learned how to say and write big numbers in Spanish, we will leave you with a couple of examples from our Yabla Spanish library:
 
 

No necesito un millón de euros. 

I don't need a million euros.

Caption 38, Extr@: Extra en español Ep. 5: Ha nacido una estrella - Part 6

 Play Caption
 
 

un millón de preguntas, ¡un billón

a million questions, a trillion!

Caption 19, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 10 - Part 3

 Play Caption
 

If you've been paying attention, you've realized that the second translation, which you may have previously thought was a mistake, is actually the correct way to say one billion in Spanish! On that note, we hope that this lesson has helped you to say and write big numbers in Spanish, and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments.

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