Forming ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 10th...)

Ordinal numbers describe an order/rank.

Look at these ordinal numbers:

English  French Long-hand
1st 1er / 1re premier (m) / première (f)
2nd 2e / 2/ 2de deuxième 
second (m) / seconde (f)
3rd 3e troisième
4th 4e quatrième
5th 5e cinquième
 9th 9e neuvième

The main rule to form ordinal numbers is as follows:

Cardinal number + -ième at the end
(stripping off any mute -e if there is one first)

EXCEPTIONS

- premier/première and second/seconde agree in gender with the noun they refer to

- you add a -u after cinq to form cinquième, as the syllable "qi" doesn't exist in French.

- the -f of neuf becomes a -v in neuvièmesimply to ease the pronunciation.

Now listen to these examples:

Je préfère la première robe.
I prefer the first dress.

Il a fini le troisième exercice.
He finished the third exercise.

Je suis arrivé sixième au marathon.
I came sixth at the marathon.

J'ai réussi la neuvième fois.
I managed the ninth time.

 

When to use deuxième vs second/seconde ?

On aime la deuxième chanson de l'album.
We like the second song of the album.

Il y avait deux gâteaux sur la table: j'en ai mangé un, tu as mangé le second.
There were two cakes on the table: I ate one, you ate the second one.

- Use deuxième if there are more than two things,
- Use second/e if there are only two options.

 

Cardinal numbers = 1,2,3 etc 
Ordinal numbers = describing an order/rank 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc Fractions = describing a part of a whole = half, third, fourth etc
Also see Expressing fractions - general (numbers)

 

Examples and resources

Je suis arrivé sixième au marathon.
I came sixth at the marathon.



On aime la deuxième chanson de l'album.
We like the second song of the album.


Il y avait deux gâteaux sur la table: j'en ai mangé un, tu as mangé le second.
There were two cakes on the table: I ate one, you ate the second one.


Il a fini le troisième exercice.
He finished the third exercise.


J'ai réussi la neuvième fois.
I managed the ninth time.


Je préfère la première robe.
I prefer the first dress.


Q&A

Scott

Kwiziq community member

22 August 2018

1 reply

Cinquième

I think it would be useful to note in the lesson another small exception to the rule on forming the ordinal numbers. Namely, 'cinq' becomes 'cinquième' rather than 'cinqième'. No big deal, but I just wanted to mention it.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

22 August 2018

22/08/18

Bonjour Scott et merci pour votre suggestion très utile !

I've now added this case to the lesson :)

Bonne journée !

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

22 December 2016

1 reply

Joakim asked : why one says "tiers monde" rather than "troisième monde" ?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

22 December 2016

22/12/16

Bonjour Joakim ! ​The expression "le Tiers Monde" to say "the Third World" is fixed as it is in English: this is the only way to say this in French. ​"Le Troisième Monde" would feel like there are more than one world, i.e. one planet, when here it's more of a division of the world into three "parts", hence the use of the fraction here. À bientôt !

Find your French level for FREE

Test your French to the CEFR standard

find your French level

Share the love!

Related lessons

    Clever stuff underway!