From buying that little black dress to giving someone your phone number, from paying the bill in a restaurant to keeping track of your budget, numbers rule your world. Along those lines, let’s dip our toes into French numbers so that, just like in English, your math foundation is solid.
The Baby Numbers: 0 to 10
The Rebellious Teens: 11 to 20
The next set introduces a new concept: joining two numbers with a hyphen. For example, 18 is “ten-eight” in French, or dix-huit.
If you memorize these, forming the later numbers becomes easier. So before going to sleep tonight, count sheep in French with these beginning numbers.
The Young Adults Settling Down: 21 to 30
Now that you have the power of the above numbers, the rest of them for a while will be a piece of cake. Just remember that 21, 31, 41, etc. up to 61 have et in between. Confused? Check out the tables that follow, and it’ll be clear.
|21||Vingt et un||26||Vingt-six|
The Mid-Life Crisis: 31 to 69
For the next set, follow the same patterns as before, except instead, you’ll replace vingt with trente, quarante, etc. Thirty-one becomes trente et un, 32 will be trente-deux and so on. Continue using hyphens and the same baby numbers through 69.
|31||Trente et un||51||Cinquante-et-un|
Take a break to practice your pronunciation of French numbers:
Getting Old Is Strange: 70 to 79
You maybe thought x+y and all that arithmetic would be useless in life if you aren’t a math fanatic. But the basic calculations you learned will be a big help here.
When we reach seventy, you start addition. So, 70 will be sixty plus ten or “sixty-ten” — soixante-dix. Then 71 will be sixty plus eleven or “sixty-eleven.” Again, go through the table below and things will be clearer.
Old Age Is Stranger: 80 to 89
Coming to the 80s, there’s even more math (Oh no?)! But fear not, if you can do 2+2, you can do this. So, 80 in French is basically “four twenties,” and if you think about it, 20+20+20+20=80!
And you know the rest. Observe there’s something missing in 81. The et has been eliminated because there is no French language without exceptions!
The Older You Are, the Crazier It Gets: 90 to 99
The last hurdle seems a bit tricker, but the 90s actually follow the same pattern as the 70s. For 90, you will take 80 and add 10 to it: quatre-vingt-dix. It’s all logical. It’s basically 4*20+10=90. Then 91 will be 4*20+11, and so on.
The Age of Immortality: 100 and Above
After 100, you’ll already be an expert on the patterns. See the table below, and you’ll be able to say French numbers until a million. Start counting your hair in French!
|200||Deux cents||2,000||Deux mille|
|250||Deux cent cinquante||1,000,000||Un million|
Don’t Miss These Regional Differences!
Francophone regions don’t all follow the herd. Swiss and Belgian francophones have their own system. Here, 70 is septante, septante et un, and so on. Likewise, 80 is huitante and 81 becomes huitante-et-un, 90 is nonante, all the way unil nonante-neuf (99).
Why should you just sing along to Ricky Martin’s “Un, dos, tres” when you can have your own un, deux, trois? It won’t take you long to grasp the pattern so keep practicing. If you still face difficulty, our French tutors will help you out. See you next post!