You probably know by now how to count in Spanish (if not check out my video about the Spanish numbers), but the question is now how do you say first, second third, and so on in Spanish? This is where los números ordinales (ordinal numbers) come into play!
In this article, you will find out how ordinal numbers work and how to use them in Spanish!
Los números ordinales (ordinal numbers) are the ones we know as first, second, third and so on. These could be seen as the adjective form of cardinal numbers, where uno es primero (one is first), dos es segundo (two is second), and tres es tercero (three is third)… well, you get the idea.
The first ten ordinal numbers are the most common and most important and they usually go accompanied by a noun because, as we said before, they are used as an adjective.
Additionally, ordinal numbers in Spanish must agree with the noun gender we are referring to.
The Most Important Ordinal Numbers
I will teach you los primeros diez números ordinales (the first 10 ordinal numbers) using an example in femenino y masculino (feminine and masculine). That way, you will learn new vocabulary while learning the ordinal numbers!
PRIMERO / FIRST
When the noun is masculine, letter O should be taken out: el primer rey (the first king), and when the noun is feminine, you should use an A instead: la primera vez (the first time).
SEGUNDO / SECOND
- El segundo hermano (The second brother)
- La segunda hija (The second daughter)
TERCERO / THIRD
- El tercer amigo (The third friend)
- La tercera oportunidad (The third opportunity)
Same as FIRST, in the last O should be removed when the noun is masculine.
CUARTO / FOURTH
- El cuarto piso (The fourth floor)
- La cuarta salida (The fourth exit)
QUINTO / FIFTH
- El quinto libro (The fifth book)
- La quinta estación (The fifth station)
SEXTO / SIXTH
- El sexto gol (The sixth goal)
- La sexta jugada (The sixth move)
SÉPTIMO / SEVENTH
- El séptimo pecado (The seventh sin)
- La séptima ocasión (The seventh occasion)
OCTAVO / EIGHTH
- El octavo pasajero (The eighth passenger)
- La octava película (The eighth movie)
NOVENO / NINTH
- El noveno día (The ninth day)
- La novena niña (The ninth girl)
DÉCIMO / TENTH
- El décimo grado (The tenth grade)
- La décima nota (The tenth note)
Ordinal numbers in sentences
Fun fact: if ordinal numbers are used in a statement where the noun is already implied, then you must use the original form.
So let’s see some examples with the following chunks used in Spanish:
- ¡Salud por el primero de muchos! (Cheers for the first of many more to come!)
- La tercera es la vencida. (The third time is the charm.)
- De mis perros, el segundo es el más travieso. (From my dogs, the second is the most naughty.)
- El atleta llegó cuarto. (The athlete arrived in fourth.)
Second fun fact: if you need to use ordinal numbers in plural, then you must add an S at the end of each number. For example:
- Los primeros carros (The first cars)
- Las segundas veces (The second times)
I have been so insistent in learning the different ways to use primero to décimo (first to tenth) in Spanish because we rarely use ordinal numbers from 11th onwards. The reason is that, unlike English, where statements like “It's her 30th birthday” are common, Spanish would rather say: Es su cumpleaños número treinta or es su 30 aniversario.
Similarly, although English speakers say “20th Century”, Spanish speakers say “siglo veinte“.
But just so you know, if you must use ordinal numbers from 13th onwards, it would be better for you to learn the numbers in ten, as every ordinal number in between you will just add the name that we just learned…
Let’s start by:
décimo – vigésimo- trigésimo- cuadragésimo – quincuagésimo – sexagésimo – septuagésimo – octogésimo- nonagésimo
And in between as I said just to give you a few examples would sound like this:
- 13 – décimo tercero
- 89 – octogésimo noveno
- 75 – septuagésimo quinto
- 67 – sexagésimo séptimo
- 58 – quincuagésimo octavo
FREE Spanish Training
¡Muy bien! Now you know the ordinal numbers in Spanish! Therefore, you are able to tell everyone ¿Dónde fue tu primer viaje? (Where did you go on your first trip?) —Please comment below using the structure: Mi primer viaje fue a… (My first trip was to…).
We have a whole series of Spanish beginner videos, so feel free to check out the other videos from me and the other Spring Spanish teachers on our channel!
Now, if you're ready to take it a step further and get serious about learning Spanish, we have a free Spanish training on our website where you'll discover the method we use in our Spring Spanish Academy to teach students to speak fluent Spanish. You also get some free sample Spanish lessons there that come straight from our Academy!