# Four tips on how to use ordinal and cardinal numbers.

In this **Smart Language Solutions** post I give you four tips on how to use ordinal and cardinal numbers.

English has lots of little rules that can make learning confusing, and how to write numbers correctly can cause problems.

In fact many native English speakers don’t know how to write numbers correctly.

The biggest mistake most people make is the correct way to combine ordinal numbers and the definite article.

In this post I give you four simple rules that will make writing numbers very easy.

At the end of this post you will find a short and fun quiz to test what you have learnt.

Remember after you have read this article you can practice what you have learnt with native speakers on our free to use language exchange website, Smart Language Solutions.

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**What is the difference between cardinal and ordinal numbers?**

The two words cardinal and ordinal are very formal words for something very simple.

- Cardinal numbers tell you the quantity: One, two, three, four and so on.
- Ordinal numbers tell you position: First, second, third, fourth and so on.

**Example One**

John – “Can you tell me how many people are in the room?”

Phil – “There are 120 people”

**Example Two**

Phil – “What rank is our website?”

John – “Our website is ranked 3rd in the alexa search”

**What are the rules for using cardinal numbers?**

There are no rules for using cardinal numbers.

All you have to remember is that cardinal numbers are used to describe size and quantity.

**Example 3**

“My shoe size is 44, and I have 200 shoes at home.”

**What are the rules for using ordinal numbers?**

There are some rules for using ordinal numbers.

The **first rule** is; ordinal numbers are used to describe both the position in a series, and degrees.

**Example 4**

“We came third in the competition, which was the 5th most difficult competition we have ever entered.”

The **second rule** is; when we write a number (not spell it) we add st, nd, rd or th to the number.

**Example 5**

“Mary came 1st, and John came 5th in the local marathon.”

The **third rule** is;

**th** is put after most numbers.

**st** is put after all numbers ending in 1 except 11 and any number ending in 11, such as 311. Put **th** instead 311th.

**nd** is put after all numbers ending in 2 except 12 and any number ending in 12, such as 412. Put **th** instead 412th.

**rd** is put after all numbers ending in 3 except 13 and any number ending in 13, such as 1313. Put **th** instead 1313th.

**Example 6**

“The results are as follows; 1st place goes to John, 2nd place goes to Mary, 3rd place goes to Tim”

“The 11th day of the month is Sunday”

“We got our 2013th new client today”

The **fourth rule** is; in written English we can put the define article before ordinal numbers, but not before dates.

In spoken English is it normal to say the definite article before dates.

**Example7**

Writtenandspoken= The 1st pace prize goes to Phil

Written= Today is 1st June

Spoken= “Today is the 1st of June”

**Exception**

In written advertising it is normal not to use st nd rd and th.

**Example:**

This sale ends on January 25!

Now you have learnt the four rules for writing numbers why not take the free quiz, and sign up for a free language exchange account on our website Smart Language Solutions.

## Click here to create your free language exchange account.

## Cardinal and ordinal numbers

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Blog post written by: Feargal Coffey January 2017 – feargal.coffey@smartlanguagesolutions.com

Memem by: Feargal Coffey January 2017

Blog post & Memem © Smart Language Solutions 2017

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