Ordinal and cardinal numbers - differences between French and English usages

Look at these names of kings, queens, popes:

Le pape Benoît seize a démissionné.
The pope Benedict the sixteenth resigned.

Elisabeth deux est la reine d'Angleterre.
Elisabeth the second is queen of England.

Louis quatorze était surnommé Le Roi Soleil.
Louis the fourteenth's nickname was The Sun King.

Notice that cardinal numbers (deux, trois, quatre...) are used for royalty where ordinals (second, third, fourth...) are used in English, except for 1st = Ierpremier:

François Ier protégea Léonard de Vinci.
François I protected Leonardo Da Vinci.

 

ATTENTION:
You use tiers (masculine) or tierce (feminine) instead of troisième when expressing a fraction, a portion of something (= one third of), as opposed to a rank or an order (= third out of).

Nous devons utiliser une tierce personne comme témoin.
We must use a third party as a witness.

Il y a beaucoup de pauvreté dans le Tiers-Monde.
There is a lot of poverty in Third World countries.

J'ai bu un tiers de la bouteille.
I drank a third of the bottle.

versus

Je suis arrivé troisième du marathon.
I came third in the marathon.

Mon troisième enfant est né en septembre.
My third child was born in September.

 

Examples and resources

Je suis arrivé troisième du marathon.
I came third in the marathon.


Elisabeth deux est la reine d'Angleterre.
Elisabeth the second is queen of England.


J'ai bu un tiers de la bouteille.
I drank a third of the bottle.


Louis onze était un bon roi.
Louis the eleventh was a good king.


François Ier protégea Léonard de Vinci.
François I protected Leonardo Da Vinci.


Nous devons utiliser une tierce personne comme témoin.
We must use a third party as a witness.


Le pape Benoît seize a démissionné.
The pope Benedict the sixteenth resigned.


Mon troisième enfant est né en septembre.
My third child was born in September.


Louis quatorze était surnommé Le Roi Soleil.
Louis the fourteenth's nickname was The Sun King.


tiers/tierce


Il y a beaucoup de pauvreté dans le Tiers-Monde.
There is a lot of poverty in Third World countries.


Q&A Forum 13 questions, 31 answers

BlancheA2Kwiziq community member

Why is the male version of tiers used for a female word: une bouteille

Why is the male version of tiers used for a female word: une bouteille

Why isn't it: J'ai bu un tierce de la bouteille.

J'ai bu un tiers de la bouteille.

Asked 1 month ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Blanche,

As this question has already been asked in the Q&A, please take a look at the following link which should also answer your query -

https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/questions/view/in-the-example-j-ai-bu-un-tiers-de-la-bouteille-the-audio-speaker-is-a-woman-and-the-word-bottle-is

Hope this helps!

Why is the male version of tiers used for a female word: une bouteille

Why is the male version of tiers used for a female word: une bouteille

Why isn't it: J'ai bu un tierce de la bouteille.

J'ai bu un tiers de la bouteille.

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DmitriA2Kwiziq community member

Minikwiz Mistake?

Pardon for asking, but it states 'Elizabeth deux vient en France' in one of the Minikwizes for this lesson. I'm assuming she WENT to France, not came from [ in ? ] France. It makes no sense to me, but, to be honest, I had to do the country preposition lessons so many times it wasn't even funny. Perhaps I am being stupid, or perhaps I am just railing against my own inadequacies, but, To you I pose this question good sir or madame.

Asked 5 months ago
AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

The translation is given in the answer to the question: "Elizabeth the second comes to France."

This makes perfect sense if you live in France and are describing a state visit currently taking place. I think you are looking at it from the point of view of a British person who would say "went". The following lesson explains that "en" can be used to mean "to".

https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/use-en-with-feminine-countries-and-aux-with-masculine-countries-to-say-in-or-to-prepositions

 

 

Minikwiz Mistake?

Pardon for asking, but it states 'Elizabeth deux vient en France' in one of the Minikwizes for this lesson. I'm assuming she WENT to France, not came from [ in ? ] France. It makes no sense to me, but, to be honest, I had to do the country preposition lessons so many times it wasn't even funny. Perhaps I am being stupid, or perhaps I am just railing against my own inadequacies, but, To you I pose this question good sir or madame.

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ClaudiaA1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Salut a tous

Francois 1er protegea Leonard de Vinci

The word  protegea is non existent in any dictionary. Could it be:

protege a? I don't have french accents on my computer. Sorry.

Asked 7 months ago
MlleC1Kwiziq community memberCorrect answer

Salut, Claudia!

The verb used here is protéger (to protect). That's the infinitive form, still ending in -er.  In that sentence, protéger is used in the passé simple (another past tense besides passé composé which is used more for literature, scientific text, history; this is not a conversational tense but something used for writing). The meaning, because it's in the past, is François the 1st protected Leonardo da Vinci.

Hope that helps! Passé simple isn't something you'd encounter in conversation, so I hope that all makes sense!

ClaudiaA1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Merci 

DmitriA2Kwiziq community member

Passé Simple Tense.

Je protége [ ai ]

Tu protége [ as ]

Il / elle / on  protége [ a ]

Vous protége [ iez ]

Nous protége [ ions ]

Ils / Elles protége [ aient ]


This is, of course, to the best of my rather sporadic and limited knowledge. Anyone, please feel free to correct me. I acknowledge also that most of the people here are right. The Passé simple is almost a purely literary tense, and should never be used in conversation, formal or otherwise.

Again, good question, and thank you for posing it.

Salut a tous

Francois 1er protegea Leonard de Vinci

The word  protegea is non existent in any dictionary. Could it be:

protege a? I don't have french accents on my computer. Sorry.

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MichaelC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

What is done for, as example, Queen Elizabeth the 1st?

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer
Première, the feminine form.
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
What do you mean by "what is done for"?
MichaelC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Sorry for the cryptic nature of my inquiry...the message got sent as I was doing a command-shift to start a new line......My question is pertaining to royalty...when the person is a woman for example Queen Elizabeth the 1st, do the French use "premier", which is masculine form or "premiére", which is the feminine form? Thank you.
MichaelC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Thank you.

What is done for, as example, Queen Elizabeth the 1st?

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BillC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Nous devons utiliser une tierce personne comme témoin.

Bonjour - i'm confused as to why this is tierce instead of troisième.  The lesson stated that tierce is used for fractions or portions and troisième is used for rank or order.  A third party witness sounds like a ranking/ordering to me, and not a fraction or portion.

Would appreciate clarification.

Merci

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Bill,

If you look at my answer to Robin, it might clarify things for you....

Nous devons utiliser une tierce personne comme témoin.

Bonjour - i'm confused as to why this is tierce instead of troisième.  The lesson stated that tierce is used for fractions or portions and troisième is used for rank or order.  A third party witness sounds like a ranking/ordering to me, and not a fraction or portion.

Would appreciate clarification.

Merci

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RobinA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

In the example "J'ai bu un tiers de la bouteille". The audio speaker is a woman and the word bottle is feminine-why use the masculine version tiers?

Thank you.
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Robin,

In the case of one third , meaning 33.33% (1/3) of something, the word tiers is 'un mot invariable' and doesn't agree with the noun it applies to(or the person speaking)

e.g. 

Un tiers des électeurs ne s'est pas déplacé pour voter = One third of the electorate didn't go and vote

Un tiers de la famille a été décimé par les inondations One third of the family was decimated by the floods

Un tiers de la foule était composé de femmes = A third of the crowd was made up of women

Hope this helps!

RobinA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
I appreciate the reply in regard to tiers, but tierce is used once in an example and I am not sure when I should use it. 
CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Robin,

The adjective 'tiers/tierce' will only be used in certain expressions like 'tierce personne' or 'tierce partie' to mean a third party -

Also in the following expressions -

Le tiers-monde The third World

Le Tiers-état = The third estate/tier of society 

The noun 'tierce' is used in some card games to denote three cards following each other.

It has very limited use...

Hope this helps!

RobinA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Merci!
AllyA2Kwiziq community member

If you're saying that most of the time tiers does not agree in gender, I think that should be added to the main lesson. The way it is currently worded - "You use tiers (masculine) or tierce (feminine)" - with no additional follow-up information, suggests that it does agree in gender. If I hadn't read this comment I would have basically just learnt it completely wrong.

Robin asked:View original

In the example "J'ai bu un tiers de la bouteille". The audio speaker is a woman and the word bottle is feminine-why use the masculine version tiers?

Thank you.

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DavidB1Kwiziq community member

The use of “tiers” for Third World seems strange - I have never hear anything that made me think that Third World was a fraction as opposed to

an additional category after The West and the Eastern Bloc - and thus I would have thought “troisième”
Asked 1 year ago
AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Hi David,

I'm sure you're right that the "third" in "Third World" refers to an order rather than a fraction.

I think the reason that "tiers" is used is probably historical. Although "Third World" is a relatively recent term it was coined from the much older expression "Third Estate" - "le tiers-état".

I imagine at the time when that term was created the language was rather different and "tiers" could be used to mean 3rd in sequence.

 

DavidB1Kwiziq community member
Thank you - since a Frenchman coined the term, based on Third Estate, (at least per Wikipedia) - I can’t argue.  I’m learning that many things I have to accept don’t have such a clear basis - but I have to accept and learn them!
CécileKwiziq team member

Thank you Alan for this excellent answer.

I was discussing this question posed by David with some French people yesterday as I have to admit I had never asked myself since in my mind it only designates a status and I learnt that there is another term 'le quart-monde'.

After a bit of research it appears that 'le quart-monde' was coined in 1969 to designate people under the threshold of poverty. It is wonderful to learn something new. If you are interested, take a peak at:

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quart-monde

all in French I am afraid but good practice.

The use of “tiers” for Third World seems strange - I have never hear anything that made me think that Third World was a fraction as opposed to

an additional category after The West and the Eastern Bloc - and thus I would have thought “troisième”

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PaulC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

tiers/tierce

Asked 1 year ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Paul !

The expression is une tierce personne as in a third party in English. It's usually used in a legal context for example.

I cannot really think of other cases when we use tierce, as tiers is the one you used when expressing a fraction, hence in most cases:
un tiers, deux tiers...
Un tiers du monde    -> a third of the world

I hope that's helpful!
Bonne journée !

PaulC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
I am having a lot of trouble submitting questions! In brief, can you please explain again about "un tier", a masculine (noun) and une tierce, a feminine noun or is it an adjective? You use tiers (masculine) or tierce (feminine) instead of troisième when expressing a fraction, but une tierce de personne comme un temon can't be a third of a person.
PaulC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Merci Aurélie. 

tiers/tierce

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MaryA1Kwiziq community member

Why would you say, J’ai bu un tiers de la bouteille, when bouteille is feminine?

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer
Hi Mary,

Yes, "la bouteille" is feminine but "un tiers" is masculine. So "un tiers de la bouteille".

-- Chris (not a native speaker).
StevenB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
So then why not say "J'ai bu une tierce de la bouteille"? 
MichelleC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
But tierce is used in the other example to agree with the feminine personne. So, like Steven, I'm not understanding the reasoning here. Doesn't tiers/tierce, agree with the noun like premier/première and second/seconde do?

Why would you say, J’ai bu un tiers de la bouteille, when bouteille is feminine?

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GioA2Kwiziq community member

We must use a third party as witness. (as a witness)

Asked 1 year ago
GioA2Kwiziq community member
Also "There is a lot of poverty in the Third World." (in Third World countries) To say "in the Third World." implies theres only one Third World. The way the sentence is structured seems incomplete. You could also say "There is a lot of poverty in the Third World country known as Mozambique"
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Gio ! Thanks very much for these remarks :) In French, it's perfectly correct to use "le Tiers Monde" as a general expression for all under developed countries, but I agree it sounds weird in English. I've now edited these examples accordingly. Merci et à bientôt !

We must use a third party as witness. (as a witness)

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Mary AnneC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I would think that VIII should be among the answers for the Henry The Eighth question.

Asked 2 years ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonsoir Mary Anne, I can certainly understand why it would appear that way; however, in French it is a little different. Here is the explanation from the lesson: «Notice that cardinal numbers (deux, trois, quatre...) are used for royalty where ordinals (second, third, fourth...) are used in English, except for 1st = Ier / premier:» Given this explanation, Henry VIII (The Eighth) would become Henry huit. I hope that you find this useful and that the answer covers you question. Bonne chance et bonne continuation,

I would think that VIII should be among the answers for the Henry The Eighth question.

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SurendraA1Kwiziq community member

tiers or tierce?

It was not mentioned in the lesson, when to use 'tiers' and when to use 'tierce'. Which one to use when?
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Surendra ! "tiers" is masculine and "tierce" is feminine : "une tierce personne" / "le tiers monde" I've added a note to the lesson ! Merci beaucoup et à bientôt !

tiers or tierce?

It was not mentioned in the lesson, when to use 'tiers' and when to use 'tierce'. Which one to use when?

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RobertA2Kwiziq community member

François Ier protégea Léonard de Vinci.

The sound for 'François Ier protégea Léonard de Vinci.' says 'François premier protégea Léonard de Vinci.' Is this an error?
Asked 4 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Robert, No, it's not an error. Ier is the Roman number I (one) followed by er - it's just another way of writing 1er, the abbreviation of premier.
RebecaA0Kwiziq community member
THE RULE: Notice that cardinal numbers (deux, trois, quatre...) are used for royalty where ordinals (second, third, fourth...) are used in English, except for 1st = Ier / premier.
NigelA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
The pronunciation in "François Ier protégea Léonard de Vinci" and "J'ai bu un tiers de la bouteille." is not as clear as the pronunciation of other speakers in this lesson.

François Ier protégea Léonard de Vinci.

The sound for 'François Ier protégea Léonard de Vinci.' says 'François premier protégea Léonard de Vinci.' Is this an error?

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