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Ordinal Numbers in French from France and French from Belgium

Hello, all! Salut, tout le monde!

Ça va? I am a Portuguese guy learning French right now and so far, I am loving it. Since I am fascinated about Belgium, I love studying the belgicisms that exist especially in the Belgian dialects of French and Dutch (I don't know much about the German ones if there are any). So, let me greet you all, but give a special hug to all the Belgians out there.

My question is simple: I know that the French-speaking Belgians (as well as the Swiss) say "septante" and "nonante" for "soixante-dix" and "quatre-vingt-dix" in cardinal numbers, but what about ordinal numbers? Do French-speaking Belgians follow the "standard" French ordinals (for example, quatre-vingt-dixième) or have their own variation for that (since they say "nonante", for example)?

Another small question: what about Canada? Do French-speaking Canadians use the "standard" French numbers (quatre-vingts, for example) or are like the French-speaking Belgians and Swiss who use a regional variation?

Thank you all for everything and do, please, be happy! :D

October 10, 2017



In Belgium and Switzerland, they do indeed have their own form for the ordinals.

seventy - septante, eighty - huitante, ninety - nonante

seventieth - septantième, eightieth - huitantième, ninetieth - nonantième

I learned this since my French teacher was from Geneva, so she taught us both the standard French way of counting and also the Swiss and Belgian way as well. I often catch myself using the Swiss way because I learned Spanish before French and it mirrors Spanish, which makes it easier for me.

Hope this helps!


Thank you very much for your answer, Suessolok :) That was everything I needed to know on that matter. It is curious that you compare the Belgian/Swiss way of counting to Spanish, because I am Portuguese, and in Portuguese, 70, 80 and 90 are named "setenta" (70.º = "septuagésimo"), "oitenta" (80.º = "octogésimo") and "noventa" (90.º = "nonagésimo"), also more similar to the Belgian/Swiss French way. Not only because I admire Belgium, but also because I find it easier, I count those numbers using the Belgian/Swiss way xD Hugs.


Well I'm glad it did :)

And I used Spanish because that was the language I knew before French, it's the language I've been learning for langer than anything else. And yes I am aware fo the Portuguese numbers because I believe 70, 80, 90 & 70th, 80th, 90th are the same in Spanish with the exception of 80, which is ochenta in Spanish.

Fortunately, from my usage of French in the real world, I've found that using the Belgian/Swiss way of counting doesn't through too many people off, although you might have to clarify and use the standard counting. I have some French friends I speak to, and while they understand, they are very thrown off by when it does happen (which to say, isn't very often).


Thank you very much for your answer. You're right: the indicated numbers are similar to Spanish, except for the one you mentioned. I am aware of the difference in French. Not only in numbers, but in everything in general in what French is concerned, I do learn the standard norm and the regional one. For example, the Belgians - if I'm not mistaken - say "GSM" for a mobile phone, but the French say "portable". I try to know the two ways, because I will never dare to say "le GSM" in France. Big hugs :D


Canadian French does numbers like everyone else (quatre-vingts-dix).


Thank you very much, DDCorkum, for your answer :) Hugs.


I can answer the last part of the question - the use of septante, nonante, and octante/huitante is not found in Quebec. The two coexisted in French for a long time, so you can see archival usage in Quebec, but once the powers that be decided the soixante-dix etc. was the correct form in the 17th century, Quebec followed that line. I suspect the areas that did not were largely ones not subject to the authority of the French state, although I think the 'septante' usage lasted in places like the Midi for a long time, and probably persists in some dialects inside France too.


Very interesting, Ian :) Thank you very much for contribution. I know that that way of counting still indeed persists in some regional dialects in France. Hugs :D


Side remark: why is there a lingot at the bottom of my publication? Does that mean that someone gave me a lingot for my publication?


Thank you, ShellMarg :D Greetings from Portugal! Hugs :)

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