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Ordinal Numbers

Ordinal Numbers

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Ordinal Numbers


Hello! In this lesson, we will learn ordinal numbers in English. Ordinal numbers are used to express position or rank with respect to some order. The ordinal numbers can refer to anything from size, to importance, and chronology. They are considered adjectives, which we remember are words that modify a noun. Let us look at the first ten ordinal numbers.

1st
First

2nd
Second

3rd
Third

4th
Fourth

5th
Fifth

6th
Sixth

7th
Seventh

8th
Eighth

9th
Ninth

10th
Tenth

Let us look at how these numbers modify nouns. We can say “The fourth letter of the alphabet is D”, referring to the letter D's position in the alphabet. There are three letters that come before D, so D is “fourth”. Notice that the word “fourth” is modifying the word “letter”.

“She came in first place in the race”. The word “first” is referring to the position “she” came in. No one arrived ahead of her in the race, so she is in “first” place.

Notice after the ordinal number “third”, each number is simply the cardinal number plus the letters -th at the end. This is a pattern that is followed by all ordinal numbers. Twenty-six becomes “twenty-sixth” as an ordinal number. Forty-nine becomes “forty-ninth” as an ordinal number.

“First”, “second” and “third” are simply ordinal numbers that you must remember. Any number that ends in “-one”, its ordinal number will end with “first”. For example, twenty-one becomes “twenty-first”, eighty-one becomes “eighty-first” and two hundred and one become “two hundred and first”.

Any number ending in “-two”, its ordinal number will end in “second”. For example, forty-two becomes “forty-second”, fifty-two becomes “fifty-second”, and one hundred and two becomes “one hundred and second”.

Any number that ends with “-three” will ending with “third” in its ordinal number. For example, sixty-three becomes “sixty-third”, five hundred and three becomes “five hundred and third”, and seventy-three becomes “seventy-third”.


Excellent! Now you know how to express rank using ordinal numbers. You are well on your way to mastering the English language.