# Ordinal vs Cardinal numbers - Differences between French and English usages

In French and English, there are differences on how you use ordinal and cardinal numbers.

## Learn how to use ordinal and cardinal numbers in French

Look at these names of kings, queens, popes:

Le pape Benoît seize a démissionné.Pope Benedict the sixteenth resigned.

Elizabeth deux est la reine d'Angleterre.Elizabeth 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 = Ier / premier:

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

ATTENTION:
In French, you have two different words to express third: you use the fractional number tiers (masculine) or tierce (feminine) to express a fraction, a portion of something (= one third of), and you use the ordinal number troisième to express 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.

Want to make sure your French sounds confident? We’ll map your knowledge and give you free lessons to focus on your gaps and mistakes. Start your Brainmap today »

## Examples and resources

J'ai bu un tiers de la bouteille.I drank a third of the bottle.
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.
Nous devons utiliser une tierce personne comme témoin.We must use a third party as a witness.
Le pape Benoît seize a démissionné.Pope Benedict the sixteenth resigned.
Elizabeth deux est la reine d'Angleterre.Elizabeth the second is queen of England.
Louis onze était un bon roi.Louis the eleventh was a good king.
Louis quatorze était surnommé Le Roi Soleil.Louis the fourteenth's nickname was The Sun King.
François Ier protégea Léonard de Vinci.François I protected Leonardo Da Vinci.

#### tiers/tierce

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