Numbers in French: The Ultimate Guide
Numbers in French: Any non-native French person learning the language will agree that one of the trickiest things to get to grips with is the number system. It might be smooth sailing until you get to sixty-nine, but then funny things start to happen because they don’t have a separate word for seventy, or eighty, or even ninety for that matter. Even the most proficient French speaker will relate to that all-too-familiar moment where you freeze as you jot down a phone number or have to scribble out few digits because what you thought was sixty-something turned out to be 72.
With French, it isn’t just about being good at the language, in order to get to grips with these higher numbers, it seems you need to be good at mental maths too. Take 77 for example, or rather, ‘sixty-ten-seven’ as it would be said in French. And it gets worse. Ninety-nine translates to “four-twenty-ten-nine” or quatre-vingt-dix-neuf.
Numbers in French
Numbers are undeniably important when it comes to interacting with other people, from telling someone how old you are to find out how much something in a store costs, to maybe even exchanging numbers with that cute Frenchie you’ve been chatting with. French numbers aren’t quite as straightforward as numbers in English; at a certain level, they actually require you to do a little math.
But like any other kind of vocabulary, once you’ve memorized and practiced them, they will get easier.
Before we begin, the good news is, this set of numbers is just like those in many other languages: simply a word for each that you have to memorize.
Numbers in French 1-1000
Numbers in French 1-10
Try getting to know these French numbers by repeating them a few times every day until you’ve got them down.
If you’re one of those people who finds your Zen by counting to ten, why not try doing it in French next time?
The numbers in French 11-20
Now let’s take things to the next level: the teens.
The good news is, there is a French equivalent to the suffix “-teen” in English: the prefix dix-.
The only downside is that whereas “-teen” is used in English starting with the number 13, in French you’ll have to wait till 17.
In the teens, you’ll see the first examples of one of the essential rules of writing French numbers in letters: If there are multiple words in a number, they’re connected by hyphens.
11 – onze
12 – douze
13 – treize
14 – quatorze
15 – quinze
16 – seize
17 – dix-sept
18 – dix-huit
19 – dix-neuf
20 – vingt
The numbers in French 21-69
As in English, when you get past 20 in French, you simply have to add the additional number after it. So, for example, 24 is vingt-quatre.
The only exception is with the ones. When you add “un” to a number ending in zero, you also have to include the word “and” (et). Can you guess how to say 21 in French? That’s right: vingt-et-un.
Let’s look at how to write some of the numbers from 21-69 in French:
21 – vingt-et-un
22 – vingt-deux
23 – vingt-trois
24 – vingt-quatre
25 – vingt-cinq
26 – vingt-six
27 – vingt-sept
29 – vingt-neuf
30 – trente
31 – trente-et-un
32 – trente-deux
40 – quarante
41 – quarante-et-un
42 – quarante-deux
51 – cinquante-et-un
60 – soixante
61 – soixante-et-un
62 – soixante-deux
Pop quiz: How do you say “54” in French? Take a guess, then check it with whatever method you prefer. Did you get it right?
The numbers in French 70-79
Now let’s check out the numbers 70-79 in French.
This is where that math I was talking about comes in. Instead of 70 being some form of sept in French, it’s soixante-dix. If you’re starting to get the hang of the numbers already, you’ll recognize that 70 in French basically translates to “60 and 10”.
With that logic, for 71-79, use the numbers 11-19, not 1-9, at the end.
Here are the numbers 70-79 in French:
70 – soixante-dix
71 – soixante-et-onze
72 – soixante-douze
73 – soixante-treize
74 – soixante- quatorze
75 – soixante-quinze
76 – soixante-seize
77 – soixante-dix-sept
78 – soixante-dix-huit
79 – soixante-dix-neuf
If you’re a fellow math hater like me, maybe count to ten – or, preferably, dix, to calm and energize yourself. Good? Good. Now, let’s move on to the numbers 80-89 in French.
The numbers in French 80-89
Here, multiplication is the name of the game.
Instead of 80 being some form of huit, or even something like “soixante-vingt”, it’s quatre-vingts. Yep, that’s “four twenties” – in other words, 4×20.
Note that the “s” at the end of “vingt” drops off after 80. This makes sense when you think about it, but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s just another way to make things harder.
Also notice that, exceptionally, the “et” is gone in 81 (quatre-vingt-un). There’s no logic I can think of there.
Here are the numbers 80-89 in French:
80 – quatre-vingts
82 – quatre-vingt-deux
83 – quatre-vingt-trois
84 – quatre-vingt-quatre
85 – quatre-vingt-cinq
86 – quatre-vingt-six
87 – quatre-vingt-sept
88 – quatre-vingt-huit
89 – quatre-vingt-neuf
The numbers in French 90-99
close up of man counting money and making notes
The numbers 90-99 in French are going to kick it up a notch. Instead of coming up with another name for “90”, we’ll just take quatre-vingt and add ten to it! And then, of course, follow the same rule we saw with soixante-dix, keeping the ones as teens.
Here’s how that works:
90 – quatre-vingt-dix
91 – quatre-vingt-onze (note that there is no “et” here.)
92 – quatre-vingt-douze
93 – quatre-vingt-treize
94 – quatre-vingt-quatorze
95 – quatre-vingt-quinze
96 – quatre-vingt-seize
97 – quatre-vingt-dix-sept
98 – quatre-vingt-dix-huit
99 – quatre-vingt-dix-neuf
The numbers in French 100-1000, and beyond!
After 99, the French numbers get easier.
The word for “hundred” is cent. Just like in English, when you count by hundreds, you simply add the number of hundreds before the word.
BUT, as we’ve seen with some French numbers, the form that ends in “0” has to be pluralized, since it’s suggesting how many sets of 100 there are. So, for example, 300 is trois-cents. How do you say “700”? That’s right: sept -cents.
When you want to add a one or ten, it’s also pretty straightforward. Just add the number after “cent”. You don’t even have to add “et” with one. And, you no longer have to agree on cent with the number of hundreds before it. Here are some examples:
100 – cent
101 – cent-un
110 – cent-dix
150 – cent-cinquante
155 – cent-cinquante-cinq
189 – cent-quatre-vingt-neuf
200 – deux-cents
201 – deux-cent-un
299 – deux-cent-quatre-vingt-dix-neuf
800 – huit-cents
822 – huit-cent-vingt-deux
999 – neuf-cent-quatre-vingt-dix-neuf
When you reach 1000, things are even easier because the French decided to throw out the idea of pluralizing mille when there are multiple thousands.
So, 1000 is mille, and 9000 is neuf-mille. How would you write “6000”? That’s right: six-mille.
The rule continues with the 10,000’s and 100,000’s. 10,000 is written as dix-mille. 100,000 is cent mille.
Ordinal Numbers in French
Using Ordinal Numbers
How lucky you are to be in France during the famous cycling race, le Tour de France! You and your friend Claire are watching the cyclists finish the sixth stage of the race la sixième (pronounced: see-zee-em) étape.
You excitedly call out to Claire, ‘Fabrice arrive premier!’ (pronounced: pruh-mee -ay). Fabrice finishes first!
‘Manuel arrive deuxième!’ (pronounced: duh-zee-em). Claire sees a Spanish cyclist, Manuel, finish second.
‘Et Laurent arrive troisième!’ (pronounced: trwa-zee-em). Laurent, a French cyclist, finishes third.
After several more cyclists cross the finish line, Claire says, ‘Ah non, Grégoire arrive dixième!’ (pronounced: dee-zee-em). She’s so disappointed that Gregoire is tenth!
Did you notice the form of the numbers in the conversation? These ordinal numbers are formed from the regular number plus the ending -ième. For example, ‘third’ is the number ‘three’ (trois) plus -ième, to form the ordinal number troisième, or third. In English, we usually add ‘-th’ to the number, to form the ordinal number. For example, we say ‘fourth, fifth, sixth,’ and so on. But in French the ending is -ième, so we say, quatrième, cinquième, sixième.
Other Forms of Ordinal Numbers
There are a few exceptions, though!
The equivalent of ‘first’ in French is premier for the masculine form and première for the feminine form. It needs to agree with the gender of the noun it is modifying. In other words, if it is modifying a feminine word such as in ‘the first time,’ the expression would be la première fois (pronounced: pruh-mee-air) since fois is feminine.
- However, for other numbers such as 21, 31, 41, and 51, we do not use premier. Instead, these numbers follow the normal pattern: vingt-et-unième.
- The number nine, or neuf, drop the ‘f’ and replaces it with a ‘v’: neuvième (pronounced: nuh-vee-em).
- A number ending in ‘e,’ such as quatre, drops the ‘e’ from the end: quatrième.
- The number five, cinq, adds a ‘u’ before the -ième: cinquième.
You might also hear second (pronounced: suh-gonde) instead of deuxième in some situations. For example, the expression for ‘in second class’ on a train is en seconde. This is because there is no ‘third-class’ on a train. When there is no ‘third’ in the series, deuxième is not used but the second(e) is used instead.
Why are French numbers so weird?
What is number 14 in French?
Number French Spelling Pronunciation
14 quatorze kah-tohrz