|Content in this post|
|1. What are numbers?|
2. The two categories of numbers and how they are used
3. Simplified tips to help pronounce the German numbers
4. Types of dates in German
5. How to use dates in German
Numbers as it is called in English, just like the Alphabet, are a key aspect of the German language. Numbers are many and indefinite. This means it has no end. They perform a lot of role which ranges from counting, dating and numbering etc. Numbers can either be in a character form otherwise called figure or in word form. There are two categories of numbers in german as listed below;
Cardinal numbers otherwise known as Kardinalzahlen in German, are nouns although they can be converted to adjectives. As a matter of fact, they are all feminine nouns. Cardinal numbers range from zero to infinity. They are majorly used for counting and totaling. When counting in English, the numbers are usually accompanied with the word number. For example; number one, number two, number three… etc. This in deutsch is translated as Nummer and the examples become Nummer eins, Nummer zwei, Nummer drei… etc.
The first twenty numbers listed below are regarded as the foundation of German numbers. Although all numbers are important, these I consider the most important. This is because once they are perfectly mastered, knowing the rest is no longer difficult. If pronouncing them becomes a challenge, my previous article on how to pronounce a German word would help you.
|Figures||Words English||Words German||German Pronunciation|
**Note that Dreißig is the only number that uses ß at the suffix. This is probably because the preceding and succeeding diphthongs /ei/ and /ig/ are both long sounds. Hence can not permit a short sound such as /z/ or /s/ in between.
From 21 upwards is formed in such a strategic way. The addition of the end-suffix “-zig” which is likened to the English “-ty” makes them kind of similar except that the positioning of the combined number is reversed and uses the conjunction “und” where English uses the punctuation mark (-). For example; 21 is pronounced and spelled in English as twenty-one but in German, it becomes “one and twenty” literally but without any space in between words and the loss of the s from cceins. Study the list below.
|Figure||Words English||Words German|
From hundred, the German numbers are usually written like in English. Once you have mastered the numbers from 0 to 100, then the rest becomes simpler. All you have to do is simply follow the sequence. Usually in German, the and that links the hundred to the next number in English is omitted. Hence, 101 which is written in English as one hundred and one, becomes written as (Ein)hunderteins and not
(Ein)hundertundeins in German. Remember not to add space between each word. Observe the sequence below.
**Note that the first Ein is optional to use. Einhundert und Eintausend can also be written as Hundert and Tausend respectively.
|Figure||Words English||Words German|
|101||One hundred and one||(Ein)hunderteins|
|102||One hundred and two||(Ein)hundertzwei|
|103||One hundred and three||(Ein)hundertdrei|
|104||One hundred and four||(Ein)hundertvier|
|105||One hundred and five||(Ein)hundertfünf|
|110||One hundred and ten||(Ein)hundertzehn|
|111||One hundred and eleven||(Ein)hundertelf|
|112||One hundred and twelve||(Ein)hundertzwölf|
|113||One hundred and thirteen||(Ein)hundertdreizehn|
|114||One hundred and fourteen||(Ein)hundertvierzehn|
|115||One hundred and fifteen||(Ein)hundertfünfzehn|
|120||One hundred and twenty||(Ein)hundertzwanzig|
|121||One hundred and twenty one||(Ein)hunderteinundzwanzig|
|122||One hundred and twenty two||(Ein)hundertyweiundzwanzig|
|123||One hundred and twenty three||(Ein)hundertdreiundzwanzig|
|124||One hundred and twenty four||(Ein)hundertvierundzwanzig|
|125||One hundred and twenty five||(Ein)hundertfünfundzwanzig|
|130||One hundred and thirty||(Ein)hundertdreißig|
|140||One hundred and forty||(Ein)hundertvierzig|
|150||One hundred and fifty||(Ein)hundertfünfzig|
|1001||One thousand and one||(Ein)tausendeins|
|1002||One thousand and two||(Ein)tausendzwei|
|1003||One thousand and three||(Ein)tausenddrei|
|1004||One thousand and four||(Ein)tausendvier|
|1005||One thousand and five||(Ein)tausendfünf|
|1010||One thousand and ten||(Ein)tausendzehn|
|1050||One thousand and fifty||(Ein)tausendfünfzig|
|1100||One thousand one hundred||(Ein)tausendeinhundert|
|10100||Ten thousand one hundred||Zehntausendeinhundert|
|10101||Ten thousand one hundred and one||Zehntausendeinhunderteins|
|100000||(One) hundred thousand||(Ein)hunderttausend|
|1000000||One million||Eine Million|
|1000000000||One billion||Eine Milliarde/ Billion|
They are obtained from Cardinal numbers and are often converted to adjectives and subsequently back to substantive nouns. The range from 1 to infinity. This category of numbers can be used for dating, marking anniversaries and birthdays and equally allocating numbering to individuals. When ordinal numbers are used as adjectives and/or substantive nouns, they must be declined like every other adjective.
Ordinal numbers in German can be expressed in two ways just like in English. They can either be expressed in figures or in words. In figures, ordinal numbers are indicated by placing a dot (.) directly in front of the number. This is equivalent to the superscript “st, nd, rd and th” that are placed above numbers in English. In words, ordinal numbers in German are spelled out like in English.
The first 19 ordinal numbers in German are formed by adding t at the end of the corresponding Cardinal number while from 20 to 99 are rather formed by adding st with exception of the first, third, seventh and seventieth number which are formed uniquely before they are correctly declined using the proper adjective-ending with regards to the grammatical case.
**Note that einhundert and eintausend don’t require a “t” before they are declined.
|English Figure/ Words||German Figure/ Words|
|1st / First||1. / erst-|
|2nd / Second||2. / zweit-|
|3rd / Third||3. / dritt-|
|4th / Fourth||4. / viert-|
|5th / Fifth||5. / fünft-|
|6th / Sixth||6. / sechst-|
|7th / Seventh||7. / siebt|
|8th / Eighth||8. / acht-|
|9th / Ninth||9. / neunt-|
|10th / Tenth||10. / zehnt-|
|11th / Eleventh||11. / elft-|
|12th / Twelfth||12. / zwölft-|
|15th / Fifteenth||15. / fünfzehnt-|
|20th / Twentieth||20. / zwanzigst-|
|21st / Twenty-first||21. / einundzwanzigst-|
|30th / Thirtieth||30. / dreißigst-|
|35th / Thirty-fifth||35. / fünfunddreißigst-|
|40th / Fortieth||40. / vierzigst-|
|50th / Fiftieth||50. / fünfzigst-|
|60th / Sixtieth||60. / sechzigst-|
|70th / Seventieth||70. / siebzigst-|
|80th / Eightieth||80. / achtzigst-|
|90th / Ninetieth||90. / neunzigst-|
|100th / One-hundredth||100. / einhundert-|
|1,000th / One-thousandth||1,000. / eintausend-|
|10,000th / Ten-thousandth||10,000. / zehntausend-|
|1. Der erste Mensch, der den Mond umrundete, war Neil Armstrong.—— the first person who travelled around the moon was Neil Armstrong.|
2. Wir wohnen auf den zweiten Stock.—— We reside on the second floor
3. Mein viertes Kind.—— My fourth child.
4. Die siebte Person, die diesen Kuchen bestellt, kriegt ihm zum letzten Mal.—— The seventh person who orders this cake, gets it for the last time.
5. Das ist das einundzwanzigste Jahrhundert.—— This is the twenty-first century.
Dates in German are of two types namely;
- Date of the days & months
- Date of the century
Date of the days & months is used for occasions such as wedding anniversary, birthdays, appointments making etc. This date usually makes use of ordinal numbers and they are adjectives. It can either be written in full form or in an abbreviated form and in words or in figures. When the are written in figures and abbreviated in words, they are punctuated with a full stop (.).
**Note that when this kind of date is written in figures, it is usually in twos. That is, second is written as 02 while January is 01. Nevertheless, in spoken German, it is used as on digit where January is simply 1 and second is 2.
|English Illustration||German Illustration|
|1. “The Party is on Monday the first of may” can be written in three ways as;||Die Party ist am Montag, den 01.05.|
Die Party ist am Montag, den ersten Mai
Die Party ist am Montag, den 01. Mai
|2.The 15th / fifteenth Wedding anniversary.||Der 15. Hochzeitstag / Der fünfzehnte Hochzeitstag.|
|3. His third birthday.||Sein dritter Geburtstag.|
|4. Today is the 21st of May.||Heute ist der 21. Mai.|
|5. The 12th person.||Die 12. Person.|
Date of the Century on the other hand is used to mark years and Millennials. In German, this date is used in two ways with respect to the year 2000. That is to say, the years before the 21st Century are written in a different way from the 21st century.
The years from the 1st to 20th Century are written in words in tens of hundred while the years from the 21st century are written in units of thousand. They are both written without space in between. For example;
- B.C —— vor Christus
- A.D —— nach Christus
- 1500 —— Fünfzehnhundert.
- 1501 —— Fünfzehnhunderteins.
- 1871 —— Achtzehnhunderteinundsiebzig.
- 1945 —— Neunzehnhundertfünfundvierzig.
- 1999 —— Neunzehnhundertneunundneunzig.
- 2000 —— Zweitausend.
- 2006 —— Zweitausend(und)sechs.
- 2011 —— Zweitausend(und)elf.
- 2020 —— Zweitausend(und)zwanzig.
- 2022 —— Zweitausendzweiundzwanzig.
**Note that the dates of the century are all nouns and must never be punctuated like the dates of the month. Also, they never use the preposition “in” like English.
|English Illustration||German Illustration|
|1. Janet was born in 2004.||Janet ist 2019 geboren.|
|2. Sara was born on the 15 of August 1989.||Sara ist am 15.08.1989 geboren.|
|3. My family and I relocated to Germany in 1998.||Meine Familie und ich sind 1998 nach Deutschland umgezogen.|
|4. Hopefully, I will have my first child in 2024.||Hoffentlich werde ich 2024 meines erstes Kind bekommen.|
|5. Berlin, the 23rd of May, 2022.||Berlin, den 23. Mai 2022.*|
|6. The appointment was on 13.04.1997.||Der Termin war am 13.04.1997.*|