When we start learning a language, we’re first introduced to its fundamentals: the alphabet, some basic vocabulary, and numbers.
And while our primary goal is to communicate in the language we’re learning, we tend to focus on learning tons of new words and mastering the grammar. Yet, we often leave the numbers forgotten somewhere in the depths of our memory.
However, numbers are an essential part of our everyday life. Knowing them enables you to tell the time, buy groceries, and talk about historical events.
So, in this article, we’ll stop delaying the inevitable and learn how to count to 1000 in the English language. Plus, we’ll cover the English numbers spelling, the pronunciation, and the different ways to use those numbers, from fractions to percentages and decimals.
Ready? Steady? Go!
Why learn English numbers?
Can you imagine a society that functions without numbers? We certainly can’t. Numbers are everywhere and are connected to everything we do.
Numbers are a part of everything from telling the time, buying groceries to distance, dates, and general conversation. They’re part of science, technology, and thus humanity and life. Let’s look at some of the main reasons why you should learn all about numerals.
Understanding dates and time
Knowing numbers is essential when scheduling business meetings, going out with friends or catching a plane. If you don’t know them, you might easily get confused when it comes to the dates and times of your business meetings, train departures, or your friend’s birthday party.
You certainly don’t want to miss any of these important events simply because you didn’t study the numbers!
If you don’t know the cost of what you’re buying, you can easily spend more money than you intended. Although you can see the price of every item in the supermarket, you need to ask for it in some places.
Knowing English numerals will help you understand the prices while shopping in local markets, second-hand shops, or negotiating the cost of the product or service you want to purchase.
Understanding phone numbers
Phones are an intrinsic part of our everyday life, and so are phone numbers. We need them to make new friends, ask that cute girl or guy out, make restaurant reservations, and call important organizations or departments. If you don’t understand English numbers, you’ll easily write down the wrong phone number. This can make you miss out on new friendships, fun dates, and complicate dealing with important matters.
Learn English numbers, spelling, and pronunciation
In order to count in English, you first need to learn the numbers from 1 to 20. Once you learn the spelling and pronunciation of these numbers, it’ll help you easily count to 1000. However, learning the first 20 numbers in any language is always the hardest.
Below, we’ll give you the spelling and phonetic pronunciation of each number. Pay attention to each sound, as later on, you’ll need to put them together to form higher numbers. So, let’s break it down!
1 - 20
Tones for numbers 1-10 are simple.
However, those for 11-20 are harder because they're compound tones. It means that there are multiple sounds involved in pronouncing them. For example, to pronounce 11, you’ll say “ee-LEH-vihn.”
Check out the table below for more sounds.
|Number||English numbers spelling||English pronunciation|
21 - 99
When a number contains tens and ones, don’t pause between the two words. For example, the number 23 is pronounced as "twenty-three."
100 - 1000
Let us look at how numbers 100 - 1000 are pronounced.
|999||Nine Hundred Ninety Nine||/nain-HUN-dʒrih[d] nain-dee-NAIN/|
How to put it all together
Let’s look at an example of a number such as four hundred fifty-five (455).
You pronounce 455 by joining four hundred (fohr-HUN-dʒrih[d]) + fifty (FIHF-dee) + five (faiv) = four hundred fifty-five (fohr-HUN-dʒrihd FIHF-dee-faiv).
Combining numbers in English may seem complex. However, once you understand the logic behind it, it becomes easier. For example, a number such as 999 is a combination of 900 + 90 + 9, so nine hundred (nain-HUN-dʒrih[d]) + ninety (nain-dee) + nine (NAIN).
Ordinal numbers in English
English has both cardinal numbers and ordinal numbers. Cardinal numbers describe quantity (one, two, three, etc.), and ordinal numbers describe position or rank in sequential order (first, second, third, etc.). More specifically, we use ordinal numbers when talking about order or placement in a sequence or series.
We use the suffix -th to form most ordinal numbers, such as fourth, fifth, or tenth. The ordinal numbers for one (first), two (second), and three (third) are exceptions.
English ordinal numbers from 21 - 99
English ordinal numbers from 21 to 99 and beyond are formed by a cardinal number for the tens and an ordinal number for the ones.
So, for example, the ordinal number for twenty-five (25) is twenty-fifth (25th). You must use a hyphen.
English ordinal numbers from 100 - 1000
Ordinals for numbers from 100 to 1000 are formed by adding the suffix -th to the word “hundred.” Let’s take a look:
|200||Two Hundred||Two Hundredth|
|300||Three Hundred||Three Hundredth|
|400||Four Hundred||Four Hundredth|
|500||Five Hundred||Five Hundredth|
|600||Six Hundred||Six Hundredth|
|700||Seven Hundred||Seven Hundredth|
|800||Eight Hundred||Eight Hundredth|
|900||Nine Hundred||Nine Hundredth|
|999||Nine Hundred Nintety-Nine||Nine Hundred Ninety-Ninth|
So, how do we use English ordinal numbers in practice? Let’s take a look at a few examples:
- I was third in the queue.
- He won his fifth football game in a row.
- This is my grandparents’ twentieth wedding anniversary.
How to say decimal numbers
Decimals are numbers with decimal points - in other words, numbers that aren't whole, such as 0.00201, 0.03, 0.75, or 3.14159. Decimal numbers are spoken by listing each individual digit:
- 0.00201 = zero point zero zero two zero one
- 0.03 = zero point zero three
- 0.75 = zero point seven five (in this case, you can also say “zero point seventy-five”)
- 3.14159 = three point one four one five nine
The zero before the point can sometimes be omitted. So instead of saying “zero point zero three” (0.03), you can say “point zero three.”
|Written decimal||How to say it|
|0.1||Zero point one|
|0.5||Zero point five|
|0.75||Zero point seven five, or zero point seventy-five|
|0.8||Zero point eight|
|1.414||One point four one four|
|2.25||Two point two five, or two point twenty-five|
|3.001||Three point zero zero one|
|3.14159||Three point one four one five nine|
|9.87||Nine point eight seven, or nine point eighty-seven|
|10.546||Ten point five four six|
So, how do we use decimal numbers in a sentence? Let’s see a few examples:
- Over the last week, there was a 0.03% (zero point zero three percent) rise in gasoline prices.
- The distance is 0.75 (zero point seventy-five) miles.
How do you read sums of money in different currencies?
If the decimal refers to sums of money, it’ll be pronounced differently. So, for example, $9.99 will be pronounced as “nine, ninety-nine” instead of “nine point nine nine.” This is because it’s a shortcut that stands for nine dollars and ninety-nine cents.
In a sentence, it’d look like this:
- A gallon of milk costs $3.88 (three, eighty-eight, or three dollars and eighty-eight cents).
- Today, one euro can give you $1.11 (one dollar and eleven cents).
|Sum of Money||Spoken|
|€5.40||Five forty, or five euros and forty cents|
|£13.5||Thirteen fifty, or thirteen pounds and fifty cents|
|¥55.99||Fifty-five, ninety-nine yens|
|8 zł||Eight złoty|
|€99.99||Ninety-nine ninety-nine, or ninety-nine euros and ninety-nine cents|
|$225.75||Two hundred twenty-five dollars and seventy-five cents|
|$9.99||Nine ninety-nine, or nine dollars and ninety-nine cents|
|£7.15||Seven fifteen, or seven pounds and fifteen cents|
|$25.50||Twenty-five fifty, or twenty-five dollars and fifty cents|
|€2.20||Two twenty, or two euros and twenty cents|
Fractions in English
To form a fraction in English, write the numerator (the number on top of the fraction), followed by the denominator (the number on the bottom).
To pronounce English fractions, first, say the numerator as a cardinal number. Then, say the denominator as an ordinal number. For example:
- 1/2 = one half (this is an exception, and we don't say "one second")
- 1/3 = one third
- 1/4 = one fourth, or one quarter
If the numerator is more than one, the denominator will be pronounced like a plural ordinal number. For example, 2/3 = two thirds or 2/5 = two fifths.
|1/2||Half or one half|
Fractions are very useful in our everyday life. We use them to describe a part of something, for example,
- I ate half the pack of cookies yesterday!
- There’s still three-quarters of my birthday cake left.
- He already drank two-thirds of the Coca-Cola bottle.
Measurements in English
Measurements in English follow either a metric or an imperial system. For example, the US uses the imperial system and measures temperature in Fahrenheit instead of Celsius.
Here are some common measurements in English with their symbols:
- millimetre (mm)
- centimetre (cm)
- metre (m)
- kilometre (km)
- gram (g)
- kilogram (kg)
- inch (in)
- foot (ft)
- yard (yd)
- mile (mi)
- ounce (oz)
- pound (lb)
To pronounce measurements, use cardinal numbers. Take a look at the following table.
|60km/hr||Sixty kilometers per hour|
|1.20kg||One kilogram and twenty grams|
|0.75km||Zero point seventy-five kilometers, or 750 meters|
Let’s see how to use the English measurements in sentences:
- The distance between New York and San Francisco is 4129.06km (four thousand hundred twenty-nine point zero six kilometers).
- I used to weigh 88kg (eighty-eight kilograms).
- She lost over 20lb (twenty pounds) for her wedding day.
Percentages in English
We use percentages to describe parts of a whole. For example, if we say that our pizza is 50% cheese, that means that half of the pizza is cheese. We also use percentages to compare one thing to another. For example, if we say that our pizza is 50% cheaper than the competition, we are comparing our price to the price of other pizzas.
So, how do you pronounce percentages? Just say the number and add the word “percent” after it! Take a look at the examples:
|Number Percentage||Spoken or Written Percentage|
|0.5%||Zero point five Percent|
Here’s how to use percentages in real-life sentences:
- 45% of people have blue eyes.
- 95% of the world's population aren’t English native speakers.
- The enrollment rate was just 15%.
English numbers songs
The following are different numbers songs that learners can use to learn how to count in English and remember all the numbers, great for both kids and adults (hey, a catchy tune is a catchy tune!):
Number songs 1-10
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Once I Caught a Fish Alive by Nursery Rhymes and Kids Songs
Numbers songs 1-20 - Twenty Green Bottles
And if you want to go even further, 100, 500, even 1000? You can use these songs to count up and down to as many bottles as you desire by switching the words, for example:
A thousand green bottles
Hanging on the wall
A thousand green bottles
Hanging on the wall
And if one green bottle
Should accidentally fall
There'll be nine hundred ninety-nine green bottles
Hanging on the wall
Please have an extra round of applause from us if you go for the big numbers - that's commitment.
FAQs for the English numbers
What is the origin of the English numbers?
The numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 are called Arabic or Hindu-Arabic numerals since they were invented by mathematicians in 5th century India. They were called Arabic numerals by Europeans.
Before Europeans adopted the Arabic numerals around the 15th century, they used the Roman numerals.
I'm a beginner! What are some activities I can use to practice saying numbers in English?
Here are some fun ways to practice numbers in English:
- Memory cards game: Write the digit on one side and the corresponding word on the other. Then lay out the cards with the digit facing up. So you’ll say the number out loud, then flip it to see if you’re right.
- Newspaper number hunt: When reading a newspaper, highlight any number you come across and say it out loud. Then confirm if you’re right.
- My Timeline: Create a timeline of the significant events in your life on a long paper roll. You could use photos or illustrations to mark the occasions. Then instead of writing the years in numerals (e.g., 2021), write them in words (e.g., Two thousand twenty-one).
What are the English numbers used for?
English numbers are mainly used to count people, money, and objects. They’re also used to tell the time, phone numbers, addresses, and dates.
Dial up the fun with these tips to learn English numbers
When you make learning fun, you’ll be more motivated to learn - and your new knowledge will stick in your brain more easily. Here are some tips for learning the numbers with a little joy:
1. Get a calendar
Having a calendar in the house can be helpful as you can mark off the numerical dates of the month in English.
2. Play games
You can play Battleship, Scrabble, and crossword puzzles using numbers for example. Using an English pack of playing cards will train your brain to identify numbers more easily. Be creative! The world is your oyster.
3. Practice with flashcards
Flashcards are a fun way of testing yourself and improving your knowledge of new vocabulary – ideal for learning numbers in English!
Make sure each flashcard has one number on one side and the written number on the other side (for example, 5 = five). To use them, hold up a card, read the number out loud, try to say the word in English, then check if you’re correct by looking at the answer written on the opposite side of the card.
Numbers are one of the basic building blocks of language, and they’re necessary in our everyday life, whether you’re buying groceries or waiting at a bank. Learning them is essential!
Ten to one, you’ll master English numbers in no time if you follow the tips provided in this guide and practice, practice, practice!
So what are you waiting for? Start counting!
Loved this article? Explore more English vocabulary fun on our English blog.