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Ordinal Numbers in English (Basic, A-Level)

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In this lesson, you will learn the ordinal numbers in English.

Ordinal numbers are the numbers you use to order people and things: first, second, third, fourth, and so forth.


Prerequisite: To understand this lesson, you need to know the cardinal numbers in English.

What Are Ordinal Numbers?

Ordinal numbers give you the position or place among people or things.

For example, in a marathon, let’s say that people arrive in this order: Jack, Maria, Pedro, Edward, and Albert.

Jack arrives first, so he is the winner.

Maria is in second place.

Pedro is the third runner to arrive.

Edward is in fourth place.

Albert is the fourth to arrive.


Some changes in ordinal numbers

Some cardinal change when they become ordinal numbers:

one > first (1st)

two > second (2nd)

three > third (3rd)

five > fifth (5th)

eight > eighth (8th) (only one T)

nine > ninth (9th) (no E)

twelve > twelfth (12th) (V becomes F)

For all the 10s (ending in -ty), the Y changes to IE:

twenty > twentieth (20th)

thirty > thirtieth (30th)

forty > fortieth (40th)

and so on…

The -th pattern

For all other numbers, add -th to the cardinal number to make it an ordinal number. There are some spelling and pronunciation changes you should notice:

  • “Eight” becomes “eighth" (only one T).
  • “Nine” becomes “ninth” (drop the E).
  • ”Twelve” becomes “twelfth” (VE changes to F). The pronunciation also changes from /v/ to /f/.
  • In numbers ending in “-ty,” the Y changes to IE such as twentieth, thirtieth, fortieth, and so forth. The pronunciation also changes to /-tiəθ/ (e.g., 20th /ˈtwentiəθ/, 30th /ˈθɚtijəθ/, 40th /ˈfɔːrtiəθ/).


four > four

six > six

seven > 

eight > eighth

nine > nineth

ten > tenth

eleven > eleventh

twelve > twelfth

fifteen > fifteenth

sixteen > sixteenth

Always look at the Last Number

Notice that only the last number changes to its ordinal form.

112 > one hundred twelfth

601 > six hundred first

1,432 > one thousand four hundred thirty second.

1,000,000 > one millionth

1,007,024 > one million seven thousand twenty-fourth


To abbreviate ordinals, add the last two letters of the ordinal number.

first - 1st

second - 2nd

third - 3rd

fourth - 4th

fifth - 5th

and so on…

Be Careful

Be careful to add the correct abbreviation based on the last number.

101st (one hundred first)

102nd (one hundred second)

1,003rd (one thousand third)

1,004th (one thousand fourth)

1,000,000th (one millionth)

1,000,001st (one million first)

Don’t make this mistake!

Most ordinal numbers end in TH, so it is a common mistake to add a TH to any number. You end up with, for example, 31th, which is wrong!

Remember, you must look at the last number. “Thirty-one” becomes “thirty-first, so the abbreviation is 31st.


Practice 1. Practice writing ordinal numbers in sentences.

Practice 2. Practice writing ordinal numbers in sentences.

Congratulations on completing this lesson!

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