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  • marycostello1000

Ordinal Numbers in English

Updated: Jul 7, 2023

We all want to get first place in something, like sport, but might settle for second. These types of numbers, like first, second, third, fourth, etc. which show the position of something in a group are called ordinal numbers.

Ordinal numbers can also be written as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. such as for dates.

E.g. The wedding is on the 7th September.

Forming Ordinal Numbers

Ordinal numbers are usually formed, by adding "th" to the end of a cardinal number (cardinal - a regular number, like 1, 2, 3, etc.).

four ➡ fourth / 4th

six ➡ sixth / 6th

seven ➡ seventh / 7th

However, a common mistake I have seen made by English learners when writing ordinal numbers in the short form (5th, etc.) is adding "th" to the end of all of them. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case.

Irregular ordinal Numbers

first ➡ ✅ 1st ❌ 1th

second➡ ✅ 2nd ❌ 2th

third ➡ ✅ 3rd ❌ 3th

The meeting is on the 1st of every month.

Let's meet on the 2nd August.

We're watching the show on the 3rd December.

Other Irregularities

five ➡ fifth / 5th ❌ fivth

eight ➡ eighth / 8th ❌ eightth

nine ➡ ninth 9th ❌ nineth

twelve ➡ twelfth / 12th ❌ twelvth

Numbers that end in "y" have the "ieth" ending in their ordinal form.

twenty ➡ twentieth / 20th

thirty ➡ thirtieth / 30th

forty ➡ fortieth / 40th

Test your knowledge. Try a quiz about ordinal numbers:

Ordinal Numbers Quiz

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