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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

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un millón de preguntas, ¡un billón

a million questions, a trillion!

Caption 19, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 10 - Part 3

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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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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.
 

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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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The Numbers from One to One Hundred in Spanish

Learning the numbers from one to one hundred 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 one to one hundred, we'll give you a couple of tips to keep in mind.

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One to Ten

These you do need to memorize, and the numbers from one to ten 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 out loud a number of times.

 

Eleven through Twenty-Nine 

The numbers from eleven through twenty-nine also require some memorization, specifically those from eleven through fifteen, which are as follows: once (11), doce (12), trece (13), catorce (14), and quince (15).

 

You will then notice that there is a basic pattern to form the following digits: 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 ten is diez, and six is seis, then sixteen will be "diez y seis." Similarly, if twenty is veinte and four is cuatro, then twenty-four must be "veinte y cuatro." Right? Well, almost!

 

A little trick will help you to learn to spell the names of the numbers sixteen through nineteen as well as twenty-one through twenty-nine correctly. Although those numbers were previously spelled as two words, their modern spellings are now preferred: Sixteen is written "dieciséis," nineteen is "diecinueve," twenty-nine is "veintinueve," and so on. The pattern is that, while the numbers sixteen through nineteen employ the prefix dieci (rather than diez y) followed by six through nine, the digits twenty-one through twenty-nine use "veinti" (not "veinte y") plus the numbers one through nine. Voilá! The number sixteen is therefore spelled dieciséis while twenty-four is veinticuatro.

 

Thirty to One Hundred

The good news is that, after treinta (30), the previous spelling returns, and you can once again use the basic pattern: thirty-one is "treinta y uno," forty-eight is "cuarenta y ocho," etc. All that are 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, and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions

 

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