German numbers

The numbers in German are cognates of their English equivalents. German also has both cardinal and ordinal numbers, as English does. Cardinal numbers are the numerals used to count (one, twothree). Ordinal numbers are adjectives that express a relative position in a series or order (firstsecondthird).

Cardinal numbers

1     eins
2     zwei
3     drei
4     vier
5     fünf
6     sechs
7     sieben
8     acht
9     neun
10   zehn
11    elf
12    zwölf
13    dreizehn
14    vierzehn
15    fünfzehn
16    sechzehn 
17    siebzehn
18    achtzehn
19    neunzehn
20    zwanzig
21    einundzwanzig
22    zweiundzwanzig
23    dreiundzwanzig
24    vierundzwanzig
25    fünfundzwanzig
26    sechsundzwanzig
27    siebenundzwanzig
28    achtundzwanzig
29    neunundzwanzig
30    dreißig
40    vierzig
50    fünfzig 
60    sechzig
70    siebzig
80    achtzig
90    neunzig
100    (ein)hundert

101    (ein)hunderteins
102    (ein)hundertzwei
120    (ein)hundertzwanzig
121    (ein)hunderteinundzwanzig
122    (ein)hundertzweiundzwanzig
200    zweihundert
300    dreihundert
1.000   (ein)tausend
1.001   (ein)tausendeins
1.002   (ein)tausendzwei
1.050   (ein)tausendfünfzig
1.100   (ein)tausendeinhundert
1.200   (ein)tausendzweihundert
1.250   (ein)tausendzweihundertfünfzig
1.251   (ein)tausendzweihunderteinundfünfzig

10.000     zehntausend
100.000      hunderttausend
1.000.000      eine Million      eine Millarde

Ordinal numbers

1.     erste
2.     zweite
3.     dritte
4.     vierte
5.     fünfte
6.     sechste
7.     siebte
8.     achte
9.     neunte
10.   zehnte
11.   elfte
12.   zwölfte
13.   dreizehnte
14.   vierzehnte
15.   fünfzehnte
16.   sechzehnte
17.   siebzehnte
18.   achtzehnte
19.   nehnzehnte
20.   zwanzigste
21.   einundzwanzigste
22.   zweiundzwanzigste
23.   dreiundzwanzigste
24.   vierundzwanzigste
25.   fünfundzwanzigste
26.   sechsundzwanzigste
27.   siebenundzwanzigste
28.   achtundzwanzigste
29.   neunundzwanzigste
30.   dreißigste
40.   vierzigste
50.   fünfzigste
60.   sechzigste
70.   siebzigste
80.   achtzigste
90.   neunzigste
100. (ein)hundertste

101.    (ein)hunderterste
102.    (ein)hundertzweite
120.    (ein)hundertzwanzigste
121.    (ein)hunderteinundzwanzigste
122.    (ein)hundertzweiundzwanzigste
200.    zweihundertste
300.    dreihundertste
1000.   (ein)tausendste
1001.   (ein)tausenderste
1002.   (ein)tausendzweite
1050.   (ein)tausendfünfzigste
1101.   (ein)tausendeinhundertste
1201.   (ein)tausendzweihundertste
1250.   (ein)tausendzweihundertfünfzigste
1251.   (ein)tausendzweihunderteinundfünfzigste

10.000.     zehntausendste
100.100.     hunderttausendste
1.000.000     millionste     milliardste

About German cardinal numbers

Not all German numbers must be memorized. Knowing the basic numbers — i.e., from 0 to 20, multiples of 10 to 100, and then the name of each successive place value — and recognizing the pattern that German numbers follow is enough to figure out how to say any number in German.

♦ The suffix –zehn is a cognate of the English –teen, meaning “ten”. German numbers ending in zero (except 0 and 10) have the suffix -zig (or –ßig for 30).

♦ When followed by the suffixes –zehn or -zig, sechs drops the final –s (sechzehn, sechzig) and sieben drops the final –en (siebzehn, siebzig).

♦ When eins is used in combinations where it does not appear at the end of the word, it drops the final –s (einundachtzig, eintausend).

♦ German numbers between 21 and 99 that are not mulitples of ten (20, 30, 40, etc.) are expressed in reverse: one-and-twenty, two-and-twenty, three-and-twenty, and so on. This includes numbers in the hundreds place, thousands place, millions place, and every set of three digits thereafter.

German numbers - Cardinal numbers

♦ Where English uses a comma to separate hundreds from thousands, thousands from millions, etc., German uses a period or just a space (e.g., 10.000 or 10 000). Where English uses a decimal point, German uses a comma. When denoting currency, the currency is named where the comma appears.

German numbers - Decimals and Commas

♦ All German numbers below a million are written out as a single word. Million, Milliarde, and Billion are separate words (82 100 650 = zweiundachtzig Millionen einhunderttausendsechshundertfünfzig). The German Milliarde is equivalent to the English billion. The German Billion is equal to the English trillion.

About German ordinal numbers

Ordinal numbers follow a pattern of their own. They are created by adding a -t to cardinal numbers under 20 and –st to cardinal numbers 20 and above. For German numbers above 100, the suffix depends on whether the last two digits are below or above 20.

German ordinal number examples

♦ The four ordinal numbers for 1, 3, 7, and 8 (erst-, dritt, siebt-, acht-) are the only ones that deviate from this pattern.

♦ Because ordinal numbers are adjectives and because they are used attributively — i.e., directly before they noun they describe — they also require the appropriate adjective ending.

zum dritten Mal
for the third time

der einundzwanzigste April
the twenty-first of April

♦ Ordinal numbers can also be expressed in writing by adding a period after the numeral. When reading these numbers aloud, however, the correct ordinal suffix and adjective ending must be included. The two phrases below are read aloud exactly as the ones above.

zum 3. Mal
for the third time

der 21. April
the twenty-first of April

One comment on “German numbers
  1. Slade Robert says:

    Excellent piece on numbers but need rules on when the number and noun is singular or plural
    Fünf Milliarden Knöpfe
    Five billions button
    (Both plural)
    Zwei Milliarden Euro
    (Plural number, singular noun)
    Zwei Meter gross
    (Singular noun)

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