Would you like to know about Spanish numbers, and how to count from 1-100 in Spanish?
In this article I share everything you need to know about Spanish numbers. I cover what the Spanish numbers are, shortcuts for how to learn them, and some bonus stuff like their etymologies.
Spanish Numbers from 0-100
Let's start with the basics. I'll show you the first 100 numbers in Spanish, then I'll break things down and explain some tricks for remembering them.
treinta y uno
cuarenta y uno
cincuenta y uno
sesenta y uno
setenta y uno
ochenta y uno
noventa y uno
treinta y dos
cuarenta y dos
cincuenta y dos
sesenta y dos
setenta y dos
ochenta y dos
noventa y dos
treinta y tres
cuarenta y tres
cincuenta y tres
sesenta y tres
setenta y tres
ochenta y tres
noventa y tres
treinta y cuatro
cuarenta y cuatro
cincuenta y cuatro
sesenta y cuatro
setenta y cuatro
ochenta y cuatro
noventa y cuatro
treinta y cinco
cuarenta y cinco
cincuenta y cinco
sesenta y cinco
setenta y cinco
ochenta y cinco
noventa y cinco
treinta y seis
cuarenta y seis
cincuenta y seis
sesenta y seis
setenta y seis
ochenta y seis
noventa y seis
treinta y siete
cuarenta y siete
cincuenta y siete
sesenta y siete
setenta y siete
ochenta y siete
noventa y siete
treinta y ocho
cuarenta y ocho
cincuenta y ocho
sesenta y ocho
setenta y ocho
ochenta y ocho
noventa y ocho
treinta y nueve
cuarenta y nueve
cincuenta y nueve
sesenta y nueve
setenta y nueve
ochenta y nueve
noventa y nueve
A lot to take in? Take another look and try to spot the patterns. I recommend you follow these steps to get all the numbers into your head:
- Learn the numbers for 1-15. There's no real pattern, you just have to learn them: uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez, once, doce, trece, catorce, quince.
- Learn the numbers for the multiples of ten: veinte, treinta, cuarenta, cincuenta, sesenta, setenta, ochenta, noventa. A few tips to help you remember:
- Other than veinte, they all end in -enta
- Other than veinte (again), they all have a clear relationship with the related smaller number: cuatro <-> cuarenta, ocho <-> ochenta, etc.
Once you've memorized the above, you can fill in the gaps with a simple formula:
- For numbers from 16-19, take the rightmost digit and say “diez + y + (digit)”. E.g. 17 = “diez + y + siete” = “diez y siete”, which contracts to diecisiete. This is much like how in English 16 is “six-ten” i.e. “sixteen”.
- For numbers above twenty, simply take the “tens” number (veinte, treinta, etc.) and the “ones” number (uno, dos, tres, etc.) and stick “y” (“and”) in the middle. E.g. 31 = “thirty and one” = treinta y uno. 98 = “ninety and eight” = noventa y ocho.
- The only extra thing to be aware of is that numbers from 21-29 get contracted into a single word – so instead of “veinte y cuatro”, it's “veinticuatro”.
Finally, don’t forget that:
- zero = cero (this one should be easy to remember!)
- 100 = cien (note the link with English words like “century”, “centipede”, or “percent“.)
With these simple steps, you’ll have the numbers 1-100 memorized in no time.
Spanish for “One”: Un, Uno, or Una?
Spanish doesn't distinguish between “one” and “a” in the same way that English does. “Un libro” can mean “a book” or “one book”.
When you think about it, those two phrases mean the same thing; the only difference is in emphasis.
However, it's important to note that the word uno changes to match the gender of the noun it describes. Before a feminine noun, it becomes una. Before a masculine noun, you drop the o and just use un.
- Un libro – a book/one book. Drop the “o” from “uno” because it's followed by a masculine noun.
- Una mesa – a table/one table. Change “uno” to “una” because it's followed by a feminine noun.
- Tengo uno – “I have one”. “Uno” is unchanged because it's not followed by a noun.
- “¿Hay preguntas?” “Solo una.” – “Any questions?” “Only one”. In this case you use una because you're referring to a pregunta (question), which is a feminine word.
Spanish for 100: Cien or Ciento?
The number 100 can be translated into Spanish as either cien or ciento. What's the difference?
Use “cien” when you have exactly one hundred of something:
- Cien personas = one hundred people
- Cien libros = one hundred books
Use “ciento” as part of a larger number, e.g. “one hundred and one” is ciento uno.
But how do you form those larger numbers anyway?
Spanish Numbers from 100 to 999
Larger Spanish numbers can be formed according to some simple rules:
For numbers from 100 to 199, use ciento:
- 101 = ciento uno
- 129 = ciento veintinueve
- 195 = ciento noventa y cinco.
(Note that you don't need to add y after ciento – it's ciento uno, not ciento y uno.
For numbers from 200 to 999, you must first learn the multiples of 100. Don’t worry, they’re really straightforward:
- 200 = doscientos
- 300 = trescientos
- 400 = cuatrocientos
- 500 = quinientos
- 600 = seiscientos
- 700 = setecientos
- 800 = ochocientos
- 900 = novecientos
These are simple enough – just note that 500 (quinientos), 700 (setecientos) and 900 (novecientos) are slightly irregular.
These eight numbers have masculine and feminine forms, and so must agree with the noun:
- setecientas personas = seven hundred people
- ochocientos libros = eight hundred books
To fill in the gaps, e.g. between 200 and 300, just follow the same patterns as for 100 (ciento):
- 201 = doscientos uno
- 202 = doscientos dos
- 220 = doscientos veinte
- 221 = doscientos veintiuno
- 225 = doscientos veinticinco
- 238 = doscientos treinta y ocho
Spanish Numbers from 1 Thousand to 1 Million
The only two new words you need to learn are mil (1,000) and un millón (1,000,000).
Note that 1,000 is always mil, never un mil – whereas for un millón, you can't leave out the un.
Forming new numbers with mil and un millón is fairly straightforward, and is best illustrated by example:
- 1,000 = mil
- 1,001 = mil uno (not “mil y uno”!)
- 1,500 = mil quinientos
- 1,686 = mil seiscientos ochenta y seis
- 2,001 = dos mil
- 20,000 = veinte mil
- 33,000 = treinta y tres mil
- 100,000 = cien mil
- 483,382 = cuatrocientos ochenta y tres mil trescientos ochenta y dos
- 1,000,000 = un millón
- 3,000,000 = tres millones
- 6,492,000 = seis millones cuatrocientos noventa y dos mil
- 8,841,932 = ocho millones ochocientos cuarenta y un mil novecientos treinta y dos (Yikes! What a mouthful.)
Finally, note that when you're using un millón or millones with a noun, you must use de. So, for example, “one million books” is un millón de libros. Literally, you're saying “one million of books*”.
Breaking Up Spanish Numbers: Dots or Commas?
In English, it's conventional to break up big numbers with a comma every three digits to aid readability. So instead of writing “1048710123901”, we write “1,048,710,123,901”.
We also indicate the decimal point with a dot, so “one half” can be written as “0.5”.
Be careful! In Spanish-speaking countries – as in many other parts of the world – these conventions are reversed. They use a comma for decimals, and break up large numbers with dots. So my two examples above would be written as “1.048.710.123.901” and “0,5”.
(For the sake of consistency, I'm going to stick with the English-like conventions for the rest of this article. But make sure to do things the other way around when writing Spanish.)
Billions and Trillions in Spanish (They’re Not What You Think)
What do you think the Spanish words billón and trillón mean? Did you guess “billion” and “trillion”? Sadly, things aren't that simple.
In the English-speaking world, a “billion” is one thousand millions (1,000,000,000) and a “trillion” is one thousand billions (1,000,000,000,000.) In other words, every “step up” involves multiplying by 1,000.
Not everyone does it like this! Our way is called the “short scale” numbering system, but many countries around the world – including most Spanish-speaking countries – use the “long scale” system.
In this system, a “billion” (or its cognate) is one million millions, and a “trillion” is one million billions. Rather than multiplying by a thousand each time, you multiply by a million.
So Spanish words like billón don't “match up” with their English counterparts like you might expect:
- un millón = one million = 1,000,000
- un millardo (or “mil millones”) = one billion = 1,000,000,000
- un billón = one trillion = 1,000,000,000,000
- mil billones = one quadrillion = 1,000,000,000,000,000
- un trillón = one quintillion = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000
(Note: in the past, American English used the short-scale system while British English used the long-scale system. This is no longer true – all dialects of English now use the short-scale system.)
How to Say “…and a Half” in Spanish
In English, we often abbreviate the names of numbers by saying “… and a half”, “… and a third”, etc..
So instead of saying “two thousand five hundred”, an English speaker might say “two and a half thousand”. Instead of “one million five hundred thousand”, they might say “one and a half million”.
I often notice Spanish people getting this wrong when they speak English. They put the “and a half” in the wrong place – instead of saying (for example) “one and a half million”, they say “one million and a half”. That's because they're translating directly from how they'd say in Spanish – un millón y medio.
Try not to make the opposite mistake when you speak Spanish. Say un millón y medio, not un y medio millón.
Ordinal Numbers in Spanish
So far I’ve only talked about cardinal numbers – one, two, three, etc. It’s also important to learn the ordinal numbers – first, second, third, fourth, etc. Here are the first ten:
Ordinal numbers are adjectives that must agree with the noun – although, unlike most Spanish adjectives, they go before the noun, not after:
- el segundo libro = the second book
- la segunda persona = the second person
- los primeros carros = the first cars
- las primeras flores = the first flowers
Note that primero and tercero drop the “o” before a singular masculine noun:
- el primer día = the first day
- el tercer hijo = the third son
To form ordinal numbers above 10, you must first learn the numbers for the multiples of ten:
Then fill in the gaps by combining numbers from the above two tables:
- 22nd = vigésimo segundo
- 56th = quincuagésimo sexto
- 81st = octogésimo primero
Just remember that both parts of the number must agree with the noun: “the 22nd person” would be la vigésima segunda persona.
For numbers from “11th” to “19th”, it’s more common to write them as one word than two:
- 11th = decimoprimero or décimo primero
- 14th = decimocuarto or décimo cuarto
- 18th = decimoctavo or décimo octavo (Notice how the “o” at the end of decimo merges with the “o” at the beginning of octavo here, so you don’t write two “o”s)
Finally, note that “11th” and “12th” can alternatively be translated as undécimo and duodécimo.
If this is a lot to take in, don’t worry! Ordinal numbers higher than décimo aren’t actually used very often. They tend to be reserved for formal writing. In everyday speech you’re much more likely to hear the cardinal number:
- “The eleventh day” = El undécimo día or el día once
- “The 56th person” = la quincuagésima sexta persona or la persona cincuenta y seis
Etymology of Spanish Numbers
Where do Spanish numbers come from, anyway? As you probably know, Spanish is a “Romance language”, which means it's descended from Latin.
Compare modern Spanish numbers to ancient Latin – and to other modern Romance languages – and you can easily see the links:
But we can go further back than that! The Romance languages are a sub-family of Indo-European languages – the family that also includes English.
The common ancestor of all Indo-European languages was proto-Indo-European. That name is a modern invention – we don't know what its own speakers called it.
In fact, we know very little with certainty about proto-Indo-European. There are no written records of it; the best we can do is guess what it sounded like by comparing its modern descendants.
Here's one linguist's guess as to what the numbers 1-10 sounded like in proto-Indo-European. Can you see the similarities with both ancient Latin and modern English? (Some are more obvious than others.)
Spanish Numbers: How Do You Learn Them?
Here’s a funny story about Spanish numbers:
In 2008 the American football player Chad Johnson legally changed his last name to “Ochocinco”. This new moniker was a reference to his jersey number: 85. The problem – as you’ll now know – is that ocho-cinco doesn't mean “eighty-five”. The correct Spanish is ochenta y cinco. It's unknown whether Chad was aware of this mistake when he made the name change. (In 2012, he changed his last name back to “Johnson”.)
Now you’ve read this article, you’re not going to make a mistake like that.
Do you have any tricks for learning Spanish numbers? What worked for you? Let me know in the comments.