Spanish Numbers Overview
¡Hablemos de números! Let’s talk numbers! Learning numbers is one of the most basic elements of learning a new language. Whether it’s your first, second, third, or even tenth language, you’re likely to start learning numbers fairly early on.
We learn numbers early because we need them to do a lot of everyday tasks. Simple things like ordering drinks for our friends, giving directions, and giving out phone numbers would be impossible without numbers. If you want to be able to do all these things, and many more, then you have come to the right place.
I know that reading an entire article about numbers may not sound super intriguing, but I’m here to make it fun and interesting. Not only are you going to learn how to count from one to 1000 in Spanish I’ll also give you some tips and tricks on how to properly use these numbers in different situations.
Let’s get started!
Start At The Beginning With Spanish Numbers
As we have all heard: the beginning is a very nice place to start. With that in mind, we’ll begin with the lowest number: 0. This is a great place to start, not only because it is the lowest number, but also because it is the easiest to remember for English speakers. In fact, I can all but guarantee that you’ll never forget the Spanish word for zero.
Are you ready?
It’s cero, pronounced “see-row” if you’re speaking Latin American Spanish, or “Thee-row” if you’re speaking Castilian. Either way, you can see why I said you would never forget.
Cero is not the only thing that Spanish and English numbers have in common. The Spanish counting system is quite similar to the English system, so once you learn the correct words for each digit, you shouldn’t have any trouble combining them to express bigger numbers.
Speaking of learning the correct words, here is the first set you’ll need to memorize.
Spanish Numbers 1 - 10
If you grew up watching American educational television you may already be familiar with 1 through 10 in Spanish, but just in case you’re a little rusty, here is a quick refresher:
You may be thinking, “Oh yeah! I got this!” But don’t be too quick. There are a few things that you should remember.
1. Pronunciation matters! Just because you are somewhat familiar with these words (Thanks, Sesame Street!) does not mean that you have good pronunciation.
The best way to ensure that you say each word correctly is to listen to native speakers. This is extremely important throughout your language journey, so you may as well start now!
YouTube is full of great videos from native Spanish speakers who will have you pronouncing every number like a pro. There are serious videos and silly ones alike, so no matter what your learning style is there are videos out there for you!
2. Learn the numbers, not just the words!
I can hear you asking, “What? The words are the number!” But, think again! If you learned to count to ten in Spanish when you were very young, you may only remember the words in order from uno to diez, but not truly associate them with the number they represent.
Here is an easy way to see if you truly know these words as numbers or if you just memorized the order. Try to recite a number that you are already familiar with, such as your phone number or zip code.
If the right words came to mind immediately, then congratulations, you already know the first ten digits in Spanish!
If you had to stop and count up to each number as you went along, then you probably need more practice. Don’t stress though, if you read all the way to the end of this article you’ll find some helpful tips to help you overcome this.
Mastering Your Teens In Spanish
Now we can move on to bigger and better things! Bigger numbers that is.
Here are 11 through 19:
Notice the pattern? Eleven through fifteen are unique words that you’ll simply have to learn, just like you learned one through ten. Similar to the English words ‘eleven’ and ‘twelve’, these numbers don’t fit any patterns and are only used to represent the first half of the teens.
Once you reach sixteen, things get a bit easier. You can remember sixteen through nineteen by simply remembering the word for ‘ten’ (diez), the word for ‘and’ (y), and the number six through nine.
Take the number 18, for example: diez + y + ocho = dieciocho.
Pretty simple, right? Patterns are great.
Speaking of patterns, there is only one more pattern and eight more words you’ll need to know in order to count to 99 in Spanish. Are you ready?
Time For Tens In Spanish
First let’s count by 10s starting with 20:
As you can see, these follow a pattern similar to English in that most of the tens numbers sound similar to their corresponding single digit. Eight and eighty, six and sixty, four and forty… you see what I mean.
In Spanish, you will find ocho y ochenta, seis y sesenta, cuatro y cuarenta. Entiendes? Por Supuesto!
Take note: Sesenta and setento are quite similar and can easily be confused! A simple trick that you can use to help you remember is to look for the s’s! Sesenta (60) and seis (6) both have two s’s. Setento (70) and siete (7) both have an s and a t. As long as you know the single digits, the tens place numbers should be a breeze to remember.
But what about veinte? Veinte sounds nothing like dos or doce. What is that about? Unfortunately, I can’t help you there. Now is not the time for a long boring lesson about root words in the Romance languages. Instead, now is the time that I teach you the pattern that veinte does follow.
Actually, I don’t really have to teach you this because you’ll recognize the pattern immediately. All you have to remember is: veint + y + ones place digit.
Nice and simple. Just remember to practice your pronunciation! Veinte is not pronounced “vent-ee” like you’re ordering your favorite 20oz specialty coffee. It is pronounced “vay-en-tey”, but quickly without too much distinction between the syllables. Not sure what I mean? Listen to a native speaker say “veinte” a few times and you’ll soon hear the difference.
Random Side Note Just For Fun: The number 21 is said two different ways. Most of the time it is said veintiuno, but if you’re talking about a person’s age it is veintiun!
Onward To 99 In Spanish
Now that you’ve made it to 29, it is time to learn the final pattern that will carry you through to 99. Lucky for you, this pattern is even easier than the last one!
For all the numbers from 30 to 99 just remember this format: the tens number + the word ‘and’ + the single digit. That’s it! Here are some examples, just so you can see this pattern at work.
Treinta y uno
Cuarenta y seis
Cincuenta y tres
Noventa y siete
I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea. Once you’ve memorized 1 - 29 and all the tens places, it will be smooth sailing all the way to 99!
Counting From 100 to 999 In Spanish
If 99 isn’t a big enough number for you, then get ready for something even more impressive, let’s go from 100 to 1000!
In order to memorize these numbers quickly and easily it is time for, you guessed it, another pattern!
Here is another chart because I love charts:
Cien or Ciento
Another Random Side Note: You may be wondering if 500 is spelled incorrectly on this chart, but fear not, it isn't. Quinientos is the only hundreds place number that does not follow the 'cientos' pattern exactly. This can make it slightly harder to remember but you'll get it.
Using three-digit numbers in Spanish is fairly similar to the way we say them in English, with a few simple exceptions.
- Don’t say “one hundred”, simply say hundred. If you need 100 tomales, you say, “Nesecito cien tomales, por favor!” Not “Nesecito uno cien tomales, por favor!”
- 100 has two forms. If you have exactly 100 of something then you would use cien, but if it is between 101 and 199, you would use ciento.
- Like many other Spanish words, the hundreds place words can be either masculine or feminine depending on what the number is referring to. For example, 200 cups would be doscientas tazas, where 300 plates would be trescientos platos.
- You only need to say ‘and’ if the hundreds place is followed by a number higher than 30.
In English we often say “two hundred and five” or “five hundred and ten”, but in Spanish, you would simply say “doscientos cinco” or “quinientos diez”. This rule holds for every number up to 30, for example:
- 222: doscientos veintidós
- 411: cuatrocientos once
- 901: Novecientos un
If the hundreds place is followed by a number higher than 30, then you would still use the ‘y’ in that number. For example:
- 456: Cuatrocientos cincuenta y seis
- 397: Trescientos noventa y siete
- 742: Setecientos cuarenta y dos
Congratualtions! You now know how to count de uno a novecientos noventa y nueve!
But wait, I promised to take you to 1000 and beyond! Let’s keep going.
To Infinity! Or At Least A Trillion In Spanish
Although we may not spend a lot of time talking about numbers in the millions and trillions, it’s still good to know how to say them if you happen to need them. With that in mind, here are the higher denominations that you may encounter:
- 1000: Mil
- 1,000,000: Un Millión
- 1,000,000,000: Un Millardo (or mil millones)
- 1,000,000,000,000: Un Billón
Notice something a little off? You are reading that correctly, un billión is Spanish for a trillion, not a billion. This is because many Spanish-speaking countries follow the long scale number system instead of the short scale system that we follow. I don’t want to bore you with the details, but if you’re super into numbers this is probably something you will want to learn about.
For the rest of us, it’s enough to know that we should be careful when discussing these larger numbers because they can easily be confused with their English counterparts.
Of the bigger denominations, the one you will encounter the most is mil. Not only because a thousand is a more reasonable number than a billion, but also because in Spanish, years are always said in thousands, not shortened the way we often do in English.
For example, when we say a specific year, like 1947, we don’t say “one thousand, nine hundred, and forty-seven” we say “nineteen forty-seven”. In Spanish you would say, “mil novecientos cuarenta y siete”. That may seem like a mouthful, but don’t worry you’ll get used to it.
Notice that like cien, mil does not require ‘y’ for additional numbers, you simply say the next number.
It should also be mentioned that unlike cien, mil is both singular and plural when you’re saying a number. So 2021 would be read as “dos mil veintiuno”.
Here are a few examples:
- 3492: tres mil cuatrocientos noventa y dos
- 8726: ocho mil setecientos veintiséis
- 1001: mil uno
Just case you do need to go bigger, here are a few more example:
- 100,000: cien mil
- 327,802: Trescientos veintisiete mil ochocientos dos
- 2,437,738: dos millones cuatrocientos treinta y siete mil setecientos treinta y ocho
Now that you know the correct format, you can properly communicate any large number that is required of you.
How To Use Numbers In Specific Situations
We all know that numbers are everywhere and that we use them in a wide variety of ways throughout our daily life. What you may not notice is how we say numbers differently depending on the situation.
Age, time, and prices are all good examples of how we use numbers in distinct ways for different things. As you would expect, this phenomenon can be seen in every language and Spanish language is no exception. Here are a few ways that you will use numbers.
When we talk about our age we say, “I am forty-two”, but in Spanish, you would say, “Tengo cuarenta y dos años” which literally translates to “I have forty-two years.” With that in mind, can you guess how you would ask someone’s age?
That’s right, you ask how many years they have, or ¿Cuántos años tienes? When it comes to answering you can say the numbers just like normal, except for 21 (veintiun) which I mentioned earlier.
When someone asks you what time you go to bed, what do you say? Do you say, “at the tens and one-half”? Probably not, but that is what you would say if you were answering in Spanish (if you go to bed at 10:30, that is). In Spanish, hours are plural, except for 1:00 which is singular, of course. So if someone asks you what time your party is you would say, “A la una y media” for 1:30 or “A las tres” if your party is at 3:00.
Spanish speakers also say “las ocho menos cuarto”. Can you guess what that means? It literally means ‘the eighth hour minus a quarter’, or how we would say it, “It’s a quarter to eight.”
If you’re interested in perfecting your Spanish time-telling skills, check out this catchy song on YouTube.
Going on a trip to a Spanish speaking country? Then you’ll definitely want to practice how to use numbers in terms of money. Buying those awesome souvenirs will be much easier when you learn to say, “¿Cuánto cuesta?” (or “¿Cuántos cuestan?” for the plural) and learn how to understand the answer.
Prices are often said in a similar format to how we would say them in English. For example: if we’re talking about an item that is $10.50 we would say “It’s ten fifty” or “ten dollars and fifty cents”. En Español, you would say “diez con cincuenta” or “diez dólares con cincuenta centavos”.
When you are discussing prices, be mindful that currencies differ depending on where you are. Don’t panic if the price of your coffee is ciento veinticinco because they are probably talking about pesos. Unless it is an unbelievable cup of coffee, then who knows?
Tips For Learning Spanish Numbers Quickly
Now that you have read all the numbers and learned how you can use them, you’re probably wondering how you are supposed to memorize all this. Well, I’m not going to lie to you and say that I can teach you how to memorize them in a flash. Anything worth learning takes time and effort to learn. That being said, here are some helpful tips and tricks that will speed up your learning so you can become a number master.
1. Repeat After Me: Repetition
I know, this is not a new or life-changing tip. If you’re an avid language learner then you already know that repetition is positively key to mastering a new language no matter what part of the process you’re in.
The reason I have this as número uno on my list is because none of the other tricks or tips will work without repetition. Once you find a method that works for you, keep doing it over and over again until you have mastered these numbers.
2. Learn A Jingle
Have you ever had a commercial jingle stuck in your head for hours? Of course, who hasn’t? This happens because humans learn significantly faster when what they are learning is put to music. You can see where this is going, can’t you? Instead of wandering around the house humming the latest Spotify ad, you could be learning Spanish numbers!
You can write your own jingle or look online for inspiration. There are thousands of creative singers and language teachers who have combined their skills to provide you with all the silly number jingles you could possibly need.
3. Time For A Flash Dance! Er… I mean, Flashcards!
Flashcards are a handy learning tool no matter what subject you’re trying to master, but they are particularly helpful when it comes to language learning.
You can go old school and use physical cards or you can use one of the many handy flashcard apps like Anki or Memrise to step up your flashcard game with pictures, audio clips, and more. Having your flashcards on your phone is a great way to ensure that you can practice whenever you have a spare moment.
4. Order Isn’t Everything
Remember earlier when I mentioned how important it is to learn these new words as numbers and not just a set of words? Well, this tip will help you with that.
Try practicing the numbers in a random order instead of just counting from cero to diez over and over. A good way to do this is to practice sequences that you already know such as your social security number (don’t do this one out loud in public ok? Safety first.), driver's license number, phone number, zip code, or your house number. Doing this will help to ensure that you assign the right word to the right number instead of just knowing that the word cinco comes after the word cuatro but before the word seis.
5. Every Day Counts So Count Every Day
Finally: count every day! This tip goes along with Tip #1, but there is a bit more to it. This isn’t just about repetition, this is about finding ways to use Spanish numbers every day. You can count the stoplights on your way to the store or think about how you would order two dozen donuts for your morning meeting. Try writing your grocery list in Latin language. This is a great way to practice numbers and nouns at the same time!
There are thousands of ways to practice throughout your day, so never miss an opportunity to squeeze in some language learning!
Spanish Numbers: Final Thoughts
Counting in a new language is a challenge, but it is nothing that you can’t handle. In time, you’ll be using Spanish numbers just as easily and quickly as you use those in your native language.
To learn these numbers quickly and efficiently, remember to practice often and in a variety of ways so that you’re never bored or discouraged. Practice with flashcards, songs, and everyday events and before you know it you’ll just be using the numbers instead of practicing them.
Remember, no matter whether you are a language learning beginner or a pro, learning something new takes time, so be kind and patient with yourself, even if you feel like you have to reread this article sesenta veces (60 times), there is no shame in that! Just stick with it and you will persevere!
Interested in furthering your language learning, but aren’t sure where to start? Check out all of our great articles on Language Throne. You’ll find open and honest reviews of all the most popular language learning apps and programs so you can pinpoint which program is best for you.