Expressing fractions in French - general (French Numbers)

Beware not to mix up fractions (to describe a part of a whole: half, third, fourth...) and ordinal numbers (to describe an order/rank: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, ...).
For ordinal numbers, see Ordinal numbers - 1st/2nd/10th/etc - in French.


Look at these examples of fractions:

un cinquième1/5 - one fifth

deux cinquièmes2/5 - two fifths

seize vingtièmes16/20 - sixteen twentieths

To express fractions in French, you usually use both cardinal (un/deux/trois...) and ordinal numbers (premier/cinquième...) the same way as in English (one fifth).

Note also that just like in English, the second number is plural if the first is.


ATTENTION: 
Here are the irregular fractional numbers:

un demi1/2 

 un tiers 1/3

deux tiers 2/3

trois quarts3/4

un quart1/4

And now for some examples of fractions in sentences:

Ajoutez un tiers d'eau à la pâte.Add a third of water to the mix.

Dix pour cent représente un dixième du total.10 per cent represents one tenth of the total.

Les invités ont mangé les deux tiers du gâteau.The guests have eaten 2/3 of the cake.

Un quart des étudiants vivent à la maison.
Un quart des étudiants vit à la maison.
One quarter of students live at home.
-> In this last example, note that in such cases, you can conjugate the verb either in singular (collective one quarter) or plural (several students)

You can also practise the different ways to express "half" in French with the following lesson: Demi/moitié/etc = Half in French

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Examples and resources

un cinquième1/5 - one fifth
Les invités ont mangé les deux tiers du gâteau.The guests have eaten 2/3 of the cake.
seize vingtièmes16/20 - sixteen twentieths
Un quart des étudiants vivent à la maison.
Un quart des étudiants vit à la maison.
One quarter of students live at home.
deux cinquièmes2/5 - two fifths
Ajoutez un tiers d'eau à la pâte.Add a third of water to the mix.
Dix pour cent représente un dixième du total.10 per cent represents one tenth of the total.

special forms


deux tiers 2/3
 un tiers 1/3
un demi1/2 
un quart1/4
trois quarts3/4
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