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What is a cardinal number?
It is a number we use for counting. We need cardinal numbers to say how many objects there are.
Examples of cardinal numbers
They have two children.
There are five oranges in the bowl.
I've had three Zoom meetings today.
Numbers from 1 to 12
You'll have to memorise these numbers.
Numbers from 13 to 19
All these numbers end with -teen. Don't forget to stress the last syllable!
Numbers from 20 to 99
All round tens end with -ty. Here is the list.
To make a compound number, we add 1–9 to round tens with a hyphen..
21 → twenty-one
46 → forty-six
99 → ninety-nine
Numbers larger than 100
one hundred (a hundred)
Milliard or billion?
The word "billion" means a thousand million (9 zeros) and it originally came from the US. The British word for "billion" is "milliard" but the British officially accepted the US practice in 1974. Today, you will rarely hear the word "milliard" from a British English speaker. The US terminology for numbers gradually spread from international commerce to everyday life.
Now, let's look at large compound numbers. To make 3-digit compound numbers, we put and after hundred. See the examples below.
101 → one hundred and one
110 → one hundred and ten
186 → one hundred and eighty-six
273 → two hundred and seventy-three
750 → seven hundred and fifty
999 → nine hundred and ninety-nine
In US English and is not used. For example, one hundred eighty-six, two hundred seventy-three etc.
With larger numbers, the principle is the same: going from left to right, we say how many thousands, hundreds, tens and ones there are. Note that we do not addand after thousand, million, billion etc.
1,304 → one thousand three hundred and four
17,721 → seventeen thousand seven hundred and twenty-one
358,842 → three hundred and fifty-eight thousand eight hundred and forty-two
1,609,100 → one million six hundred and nine thousand one hundred
In writing, we usually put commas after every 3 digits counting from the right. It makes reading simpler.
When pronouncing cardinal numbers, we do not put the words "hundred", "thousand", "million", "billion" into the plural form. Note that there is no -s at the end.
However, when we refer to large but not exact quantities of people, animals or things, we can use these words in plural.
Thousands of birds were circling over the rocks.
The candidate received two thousand two hundred and fifteen voices.
Zero and synonyms
The symbol 0 or the absence of number is called differently depending on where we use it. You may always use the word zero and people will understand you correctly. However, here is a helpful table in case you come across one of these words, in speaking or writing.
in a sequence of digits, e.g. telephone numbers
My number is 609 035.
My number is six oh nine oh three five
symbol 0 in British English
-2 + 2 = 0
Minus two plus two equals nought.
symbol 0 in US English; in Br English — used with temperatures