Ordinal numbers - 1st/2nd/10th/etc - in French

Ordinal numbers describe an order/rank. In this lesson, you will learn how to form ordinal numbers in French.

How to form ordinal numbers in French

Look at these ordinal numbers:

English  French Long-hand
1st 1er / 1re premier (m) / première (f)
2nd 2e / 2/ 2de deuxième 
second (m) / seconde (f)
3rd 3e troisième
4th 4e quatrième
5th 5e cinquième
 9th 9e neuvième

The main rule to form ordinal numbers is as follows:

Cardinal number + -ième at the end
(stripping off any mute -e if there is one first)

EXCEPTIONS

- premier/première and second/seconde agree in gender with the noun they refer to

- you add a -u after cinq to form cinquième, as the syllable "qi" doesn't exist in French.

- the -f of neuf becomes a -v in neuvièmesimply to ease the pronunciation.

Now listen to these examples:

Je préfère la première robe.I prefer the first dress.

Il a fini le troisième exercice.He finished the third exercise.

Le Cinquième Élément est un film génial !The Fifth Element is a great film!

Je suis arrivé sixième au marathon.I came sixth at the marathon.

J'ai réussi la neuvième fois.I managed the ninth time.

 

When to use deuxième vs second/seconde ?

On aime la deuxième chanson de l'album.We like the second song of the album.

Il y avait deux gâteaux sur la table: j'en ai mangé un, tu as mangé le second.There were two cakes on the table: I ate one, you ate the second one.

- Use deuxième if there are more than two things,
- Use second/e if there are only two options.

 

Cardinal numbers = 1,2,3 etc 
Ordinal numbers = describing an order/rank 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc Fractions = describing a part of a whole = half, third, fourth etc
Also see Expressing fractions in French - general (French Numbers)

 

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Examples and resources

Je préfère la première robe.I prefer the first dress.
Il a fini le troisième exercice.He finished the third exercise.
On aime la deuxième chanson de l'album.We like the second song of the album.
Je suis arrivé sixième au marathon.I came sixth at the marathon.
J'ai réussi la neuvième fois.I managed the ninth time.
Il y avait deux gâteaux sur la table: j'en ai mangé un, tu as mangé le second.There were two cakes on the table: I ate one, you ate the second one.
Le Cinquième Élément est un film génial !The Fifth Element is a great film!
Let me take a look at that...