So, you’re learning Spanish, great! You’ve already mastered the basics Hola = Hello, Me llamo = My name is, and ¿Cómo estás? = How are you. You may even have learned how to count to ten or tell someone how old you are.
So why learn the rest of the numbers? There are plenty of reasons! Counting is one of those aspects of language learning that no one can get around learning. This is particularly true if you are living abroad. It doesn’t seem like it but numbers are everywhere from the address of the restaurant where you are meeting your friends to the telephone number you have to ring to make a reservation. You need to count to set a time for the dinner, ask about the cost of certain items, figure out the bill and decide how much you want to tip.
And you don’t just have to produce them, you should be able to understand the numbers Spanish speakers say to you as well. For those poor souls taking a language exam, you may be tested on your ability to write complex numbers in long form say 9,567,430.62. This entails learning the rules around hyphenation and how to build three, four and multi-digit figures. In short, you need to know your numbers front to back, back to front and out of order.
That’s why you’re lucky learning how to count in Spanish is such an easy skill to master. Trust us when we say that with a little effort you’ll be able to count in no time. Spanish numbers are based on simple patterns. If you learn 1-20, multiples of ten, a hundred and a thousand, you’ll have the bits you need to say any number you like.
So let’s get to it! First have a look at some of the situations in which you’ll need to know your Spanish numbers then practice with the numbers themselves.
When will you need to count in Spanish?
Knowing how to count is an essential skill for a variety of tasks and conversation topics from understanding a weather report to going grocery shopping,
Picture yourself browsing one of Madrid’s wonderful markets. You see some gorgeous oranges and you want to buy a lot for making Sangria. But wait, how are you going to tell the stall owner how many you need? This is a pretty simple example, but it’s also important to know the words for higher numbers when you’re shopping in Spanish. For example, what if something is 40% off in the sale and the cashier forgets to include the discount. How will you tell her? Or what if your bill comes to €238,21? Now imagine you can’t see the screen on the cash register and have to rely on your ears to process the string of numbers coming your way. If you can’t count past ten you may end up paying the wrong amount!
2. Talking about age
Someone asks you your age in Spanish. Whether you are 13, 35 or 99, you need to know your Spanish numbers to be able to answer the question! You also need to be able to understand numbers so you don’t make any mistakes when it comes to understanding the other person’s age. What if someone tells you the year they were born instead of their age– mil novecientos ochenta y cuatro. Would you understand that they were 32? If someone tells you how old they are in Spanish and you get it wrong, it could get awkward! Key words to learn with age are: año(s) = year(s), mes(es) = month(s).
3. Talking about dates
Maybe you’re planning to meet up with a Spanish-speaking friend, or you’re planning a holiday, or maybe you have una cita (an appointment). It’s very important that you learn numbers so you can talk about dates. If someone says that they can meet on a certain date, you need to be confident that you have the right date! This also applies to talking about birthdays or other important dates. If someone asks for your birthday or tells you theirs, you need to make sure you know the right words for the dates you’re talking about! Key words for dates: cumpleaño = birthday, semana = week, proximo/a = next.
4. Telling the time
Whether you prefer to use the 12 hour or 24 hour clock (note that 12 hour is most common in Spain, but you will hear 24 hour on the news, for announcements and in more formal settings), learning how to count in Spanish is a must for being able to tell the time and understand the time if someone tells you in Spanish. Even though the Spanish tend to be very relaxed, it won’t look good if you turn up hours late for a meeting because you mixed up your hours! Key words to learn with time are: hora(s) = hour(s), minuto(s) = minute(s), media = half, cuarto = quarter, y = and, menos = less (used for to: e.g quarter to 5 = cinco menos cuarto).
5. Travelling around
Numbers are crucial if you are planning on doing any travel in a Spanish speaking country. In fact, after greetings they may be one of the first things you learn. You want to be able to get on the right bus by going to the correct bay in the bus station. Finding your train and your seat are also important and if you ask for instructions a Spanish speaker is bound to send a few numbers your way in his or her response. Imagine getting lost and asking how far away a certain destination is? You not only need to know the number of meters they tell you but understand how long it will take too.
6. Speaking about yourself
Sure there are birthdays and age to consider but what if you just want to tell someone that you visited Spain as a child. You’ll need to quote the year in Spanish or explain how long ago it was. Numbers are useful if you need to count family members (how many hermanas do you have?) or tell someone where you live.
7. Idiomatic phrases
Every language has figurative language, such as proverbs, that include numbers. Here are a few examples in Spanish: A pan de quince dias, hambre de tres semanas (beggars can’t be choosers), Como (que) dos y dos son cuatro (literally as 2 and 2 are four or ‘as the day is long’ in English), El viejo que se cura, cien anon dura (a creaking door hangs longest).
How to count from 1-20 in Spanish
Now if you haven’t already here’s your opportunity to learn Spanish numbers! Try to learn them both in a sequence and out of order. It’s great to use your fingers to count up to cinco but sometimes you just need to be able to say 5 all by itself. Some easy ways to test yourself on numbers include throwing dice and reading both the individual figures and the combined sum. Count backwards from 3 as you get ready to start new activities! You can also practice reading out number you encounter in your day-to-day, including telephone numbers, addresses, the license plate on the car in front of you and even the temperature outside.
If you’re struggling with Spanish pronunciation you can download the FlashAcademy app and get a native speaker version for each of the following. Remember there may be some differences between the way Spanish sounds in the Americas vs. in Spain. Learn the version of Spanish you are most likely to use for future travel or business plans.
- (One) = Uno
- (Two) = Dos
- (Three) = Tres
- (Four) = Cuatro
- (Five) = Cinco
- (Six) = Seis
- (Seven) = Siete
- (Eight) = Ocho
- (Nine) = Nueve
- (Ten) = Diez
- (Eleven) = Once
- (Twelve) = Doce
- (Thirteen) = Trece
- (Fourteen) = Catorce
- (Fifteen) = Quince
- (Sixteen) = Dieciséis
- (Seventeen) = Diecisiete
- (Eighteen) = Dieciocho
- (Nineteen) = Diecinueve
- (Twenty) = Veinte
How to count from 20-100 in Spanish
- (Twenty) = Veinte
- 21: Veintiuno, 22: Veintidós, 23: Veintitrés… (The 20s are all one word)
- (Thirty) = Treinta
- 31: Treinta y uno, 32: Treinta y dos, 33: Treinta y tres… (From the 30s on, two words are joined by “y”)
- (Forty) = Cuarenta
- 45: Cuarenta y cinco
- (Fifty) = Cincuenta
- 57: Cincuenta y siete
- (Sixty) = Sesenta
- 68: Sesenta y ocho
- (Seventy) = Setenta (Be careful! Only one letter changes between 60 and 70!)
- 74: Setenta y cuatro
- (Eighty) = Ochenta
- 81: Ochenta y uno
- (Ninety) = Noventa
- 92: Noventa y dos
How to count from 100 and above in Spanish
- (One hundred) = Cien
- 105: Ciento cinco; 145: Ciento cuarenta y cinco
- (Two hundred = Doscientos
- 230: Doscientos treinta
- (Three hundred) = Trescientos
- (Four hundred) = Cuatrocientos
- (Five hundred) = Quinientos (500 doesn’t follow the pattern, so learn it by heart!)
- (Six hundred) = Seiscientos
- (Seven hundred) = Setecientos
- (Eight hundred) = Ochocientos
- (Nine hundred) = Novecientos
1000: (One thousand) = Mil
2000: Dos mil; 3000: Tres mil… etc.
1500: (One thousand five hundred) = mil quinientos
20310: (Twenty thousand, three hundred and ten) = veinte mil trescientos diez
300.000: trescientos mil
1000000. (One million) = Un millón
Other useful words for counting in Spanish
Now it’s time to put them into practice. Here are some examples of questions and answers with words you’ll need for talking about numbers:
1. Asking for/telling the time
- ¿A qué hora empieza la película? / Empieza a las siete. = At what time does the movie start? / It starts at seven.
- ¿A qué hora cenaremos? / A las never. = What time are we having dinner? / At nine.
2. Asking/telling how much/many
- ¿Cuánto cuesta el vestido? / Cuesta veinte euros. = How much does the dress cost? / It costs twenty euros.
- ¿Cuántos hermanos tienes? / Tengo tres hermanos. = How many brothers do you have? / I have three brothers.
3. Asking/telling about age and birthdays
- “¿Cuántos años tienes?” / “Tengo cincuenta y ocho años.” = “How old are you?” / “I am fifty-eight years old.”
- “¿Cuándo es tu cumpleaños?” / “Mi cumpleaños es el doce de diciembre.” = “When is your birthday?” / “My birthday is on the 12th of December.”
- “¿En qué año naciste?” / “Nací en mil novecientos noventa y tres.” = “In which year were you born?” / “I was born in 1993.”
So, now you have seen that learning how to count in Spanish is easy! Follow these simple patterns and learn the key words and vocabulary for talking about numbers and you’ll be ready for a Spanish shopping trip in no time!
Do you have any questions on counting in Spanish? Share them in the comments and we’ll see if we can help!