Grammar: Dutch numbers
Below you can find an overview of the Dutch names of the cardinal numbers.
Pointers & Rules
- From 21 upwards, you pronounce the numbers by first saying the units (the single numbers) and then the tens. These units and tens are joined together by en, the conjunction.
Examples: "drieëntwintig" (23) (which features an ë to aid pronunciation); "vijfenzestig" (65); "vierentachtig" (84); "achtennegentig" (98).
The Dutch actually do not use a decimal point but a decimal comma. Thus, you may come across: 2,4%; 1,5 (one and a half); 6,8 (6.8 in English); etcetera.
After the number or quantity you've provided, the following selection of words occurs in its singular form: “centimeter” (centimeter), “meter” (meter), “kilometer” (kilometer), “kilo” (kilo), “liter” (liter), “gram” (gram), “jaar” (year), “uur” (hour) and “euro(cent)” (euro(cent)).
- “Mag ik drie kilo, alsjeblieft?” = “Can I have three kilos, please?”
- “Dit insect is vier centimeter lang.” = “This insect is four centimeters long.”
- “Hier woon ik al zes jaar.” = “I’ve already been living here for six years.”
First: the numbers up to 19. These particular numbers are formed by simply attaching -de to the cardinal number.
"tweede" (second), "derde" (third), "tiende" (tenth), "achttiende" (eighteenth) etcetera. Exceptions to this rule are “eerste” (first); “derde” (third) and “achtste” (eighth)
The ordinal numbers of 20 and higher receive -ste as a suffix.
“Het is de dertigste vandaag.” = “It is the thirtieth today.”
“Hij is de achtentwintigste man.” = “He is the twenty-eighth man.”
Oh, by the way for those future readers I found this other website with a more thorough explanation on number order higher than 100. Here is what I found useful
Some remarks Units are combined with tens by means of -en- [ən] or [εn] ‘and’, in reverse order compared to English: twintig + vier = vierentwintig. The higher powers of ten, however, are added in ‘normal’ order, and with optional use of -en-: honderd + negen = honderd(en)negen, achthonderd + zestig + twee = achthonderd(en)tweeënzestig; zesduizend + dertig + negen = zesduizend(en)negenendertig; etc.
Complex numbers between 10 and 99 are typically written as one word, higher ones will usually get a space or two for clarity’s sake: vierduizendachthonderd(en)éénentwintig becomes vierduizend achthonderd (en) éénentwintig.
Numbers like 6,200 can be pronounced in two different ways: either as tweeënzestighonderd (‘sixty-two hundred’) or as zesduizend tweehonderd (‘six thousand two hundred’). The same goes when these numbers also contain tens and / or units: 3,266 tweeëndertighonderd zesenzestig or drieduizend tweehonderd zesenzestig.
When indicating years, the word honderd may be left out, as in English: 1999 negentienhonderd negenennegentig or negentien negenennegentig. No such practice has developed yet for the year 2000 and upwards: this might change in the future, but at present people usually say tweeduizend acht for 2008. The pronunciation *twintig acht, although it is sometimes used, still sounds a bit awkward.
Ordinals are formed with –de or –ste.
Honderd and duizend are never preceded by an indefinite article as in English, but miljoen, miljard etc. typically are.
Mind the irregular cardinals dertien / -tig (not drietien / -tig), veertien (not viertien / -tig), tachtig (not achttig), and the ordinals eerste (not eende or eenste) and derde (not driede).
How do you pronounce a number with a decimal comma in Dutch? Or more specifically, how do you pronounce the comma? 6.8 for example.
Also, how would you write an ordinal number using the number rather than the word? Like in English you simply write 3rd, 21st, etc. In Dutch do you just write 18de, 30ste?
Thanks for these tips!! Small doubt though: I understand we say "veer jaar", or "zeven kilo", but is it because it's units of measure, or does this happen with every single noun? Say: I have three brothers: "Ik heb drie broer" or "Ik heb drie broers", or "deze zeven kind" or "deze zeven kinderen"? Bedankt!
It is due to the measurements. "Vier jaar" and "Ik heb vier katten" are as such because a unit of measurement is functioning as an adjective. You would use "jaren" if you were perhaps saying "De jaren zijn lang", in which something is describing the year itself, not a total amount. Subjects always get pluralized with numbers higher than one, of course. Hope this helps! =D
How come "vierentachtig" (84); it is not vier+en+acht+ig. My question is how am I supposed to know I have to change the t that goes after "en", while the actual number is acht, not tacht.... In the case 65 (vijfenzestig) it doesn't change any letter. It is 5 (vijf) + en + zes + tig