Numbers in French: How it works and Pronunciation

The French number system is remarkably complicated, despite the fact that it is far from ubiquitous. While French Pronunciation is usually difficult for English speakers, many numbers also include some implicit arithmetic inside the name, which means that a basic two-digit number might wind up being eighteen letters (and three dashes) long. However, there is some logic to the number system, which becomes simpler to recall once it is written out in English. If you also want to know more about this topic, you’re welcome here. Read on as we explain the ways to read French numbers.

French number system origin

If you’re considering a trip to a French-speaking nation, you’ll need to know your French numbers. Thus, the following circumstances will undoubtedly necessitate your knowledge of the French number system:

  • In France, you may be given instructions with a specific number of meters/kilometers or an address with numbers.
  • Train station announcements typically contain the (often four-digit) train number, platform, and departure time using the 24-hour clock (“military time”).
  • If you are ever asked for personal information, you must be prepared to provide your birth year.

French number system history

The number system is one of the most challenging aspects of the French language for non-native speakers to grasp. It may be smooth sailing until you reach sixty-nine, but then strange things begin to happen since they don’t have a separate term for seventy, eighty, or even ninety. Hence, even the most fluent French speaker may recall that all-too-familiar moment when you pause when writing a phone number or have to scratch out a few digits because what you thought was sixty-something turned out to be 72. It appears that being strong at mental mathematics is required in order to understand these higher numbers in French. Consider the number 77, or sixty-ten-seven’ as it is pronounced in French. And it just gets worse. Thus, the number 89 translates to “four-twenty-ten-nine,” or quatre-vingt-Dix-Neuf.

Numbers in French language

Numbers in French 1 – 10

0 – zéro

1 – un

2 – deux

3 – trois

4 – quatre

5 – cinq

6 – six

7 – sept

8 – huit

9 – neuf

10 – dix

Try memorizing these French numbers by repeating them a few times a day until you’ve mastered them. Thereafter, if you discover your Zen by counting to 10, why not try it in French the next time?

Numbers in French 11 – 20

Let’s move on to the next stage: the adolescent years. The good news is that there is a French counterpart to the English suffix “-teen”: the prefix dis-. However, the main drawback is that, unlike in English, where “-teen” begins with the number 13, in French, it begins with the number 17.

Hence, you’ll encounter the first examples of one of the fundamental principles of writing French numerals in letters in your teens. If a number contains several words, they are separated by hyphens.

11 – onze

12 – douze

13 – treize

14 – quatorze

15 – quinze

16 – seize

17 – dix-sept

18 – dix-huit

19 – dix-neuf

20 – vingt

Numbers in French 21 – 30

Then, after we’ve reached the age of twenty, it’s all downhill from there. Thus, all you need to know is the word for twenty (vet), followed by a lower number.

The only thing to remember is the number 21 (vingt et un), which has the “one” appended like “twenty and one” as opposed to 22 (vingt-Deux), 23 (vingt-trois), and so on.

21 – vingt-et-un

22 – vingt-deux

23 – vingt-trois

24 – vingt-quatre

25 – vingt-cinq

26 – vingt-six

27 – vingt-sept

28- vingt-huit

29 – vingt-neuf

30 – trente

Numbers in French 31 – 70

Once you’ve mastered that rhythm, it’s quite simple to count all the way up to the sixties. Substitute vingt for one of these integers instead.

31 – trente-et-un

32 – trente-deux

40 – quarante

41 – quarante-et-un

42 – quarante-deux

50- cinquante

51 – cinquante-et-un

52- cinquante-deux

60 – soixante

61 – soixante-et-un

62 – soixante-deux

Numbers in French 71 – 80

This is when the arithmetic I mentioned before comes into play. Instead of 70 being some sept, it’s soixante-six in French. Hence, if you’re already getting the hang of the numbers, you’ll see that 70 in French translate to “60 and 10.”

Using that reasoning, the numbers 11-19, not 1-9, should be used at the conclusion of 71-79.

In French, below are the numbers 70-79:

70 – soixante-dix

71 – soixante-et-onze

72 – soixante-douze

73 – soixante-treize

74 – soixante- quatorze

75 – soixante-quinze

76 – soixante-seize

77 – soixante-dix-sept

78 – soixante-dix-huit

79 – soixante-dix-neuf

Isn’t it a little strange? It gets much weirder. When you get to eighty, you have to do some math instead of having a term for it. French people will say quatre-vingts, which translates to “four twenty.” Then, when you come to ninety, you do the same thing we did before with the seventies. You take an eighty and add 10. However, we are now adding it to those “four twenties,” so when you say “ninety,” you are actually saying four-twenty-ten, four-twenty-eleven, four-twenty-twelve, and so on.

Numbers in French 80 – 89

Multiplication is the name of the game here. Instead of 80 being a form of huit or even “soixante-vingt,” it’s quatre-vingts. Yes, “four twenties” – or 420 – is correct. The “s” at the end of “vet” disappears after 80. When you think about it, this makes logic, but I can’t escape the idea that it’s simply another method to complicate things. Also, the “et” is absent in 81, which is unusual (quatre-vingt-un). There is no logic there that I can conceive of. Here are the French digits 80-89:

80 – quatre-vingts

81- quatre-vingt-un

82 – quatre-vingt-deux

83 – quatre-vingt-trois

84 – quatre-vingt-quatre

85 – quatre-vingt-cinq

86 – quatre-vingt-six

87 – quatre-vingt-sept

88 – quatre-vingt-huit

89 – quatre-vingt-neuf

Numbers in French 91 – 100

The digits 90-99 in French will take it up a notch. Instead of coming up with a new moniker for “90,” we’ll take quatre-vingt and multiply it by 10! Then, as with soixante-dix, apply the same method to the ones, retaining them as adolescents. This is how it works:

90 – quatre-vingt-dix

91 – quatre-vingt-onze (note that there is no “et” here.)

92 – quatre-vingt-douze

93 – quatre-vingt-treize

94 – quatre-vingt-quatorze

95 – quatre-vingt-quinze

96 – quatre-vingt-seize

97 – quatre-vingt-dix-sept

98 – quatre-vingt-dix-huit

99 – quatre-vingt-dix-neuf

Numbers in French 100 to 1000

The French numerals get simpler after 99. Cent is the term meaning “hundred.” When counting by hundreds, you just add the number of hundreds before the word, just as in English. However, as we’ve seen with certain French numbers, the form that ends in “0” must be pluralized since it indicates the number of sets of 100. For example, 300 is three pennies. How do you pronounce “700”? That’s right: ninety-seven cents.

When you want to add a one or ten, it’s likewise quite simple. Simply add the number after “cent.” You don’t even need to include “et” with one. Furthermore, you are no longer need to agree on cent with the number of hundreds before it. Following are some examples:

100 – cent

101 – cent-un

102- cent-deux

110 – cent-dix

150 – cent-cinquante

155 – cent-cinquante-cinq

189 – cent-quatre-vingt-neuf

200 – Deux-cents

201 – Deux-cent-un

299 – deux-cent-quatre-vingt-dix-neuf

800 – huit-cents

822 – huit-cent-vingt-deux

999 – neuf-cent-quatre-vingt-dix-neuf

When you get to 1000, things get even easier because the French opted to abandon the practice of pluralizing mille when there are numerous thousands.

As a result, 1000 is mille and 9000 is neuf-mille. How would you write the number “6000”? That’s correct: six mille. The regulation also applies to the 10,000’s and 100,000’s as well. The French word for 10,000 is dix-mille. 100,000 is one hundred thousand.

French number system Wikipedia

In French, the male word of ‘first’ is premier, while the feminine form is première. Moreover, it also must match the gender of the word it is modifying. In other words, if it is modifying a feminine term, such as ‘the first time,’ the expression is la première fois (pronounced: pruh-mee-air) since fois is feminine.

However, we do not utilize premier for other numbers like 21, 31, 41, and 51. Instead, these numbers adhere to the standard pattern: Vingt-et-unième. The number nine, or neuf, substitutes the ‘f’ with a ‘v’: neuvième (pronounced: nuh-vee-em). Thus, a number that ends in ‘e,’ such as quatre, loses the ‘e’ at the end: quatrième.

In rare cases, second (pronounced suh-gonde) may be used instead of deuxième. On a train, for example, the phrase for ‘in second class’ is en seconde. This is due to the fact that there is no such thing as “third class” on a train. When there is no ‘third’ in the sequence, deuxième is dropped in favor of second (e).

French Number System regional differences

It also becomes much more complicated if you travel to other French-speaking countries. Thus, in Belgium and Switzerland, septate (seventy) is used instead of soixante-Dix (sixty-ten), while nonante (ninety) is used instead of quatre-vingt-dix (four-twenty-ten). In Switzerland (but not in Belgium), huitante is used for eighty, rather than quatre-vingts.

Suppose all of these extra possibilities are too much for you to remember right now. Thus, you can simply stick with the French-French numbers we covered. Whatever nation you travel to, these numerals will always be understood, even if they are not often utilized.

French country phone number system

When phoning from one nation to another, each country has its own “calling code.” Hence, the country code for the United States is “+1.” The prefix “+33” is necessary when calling a French number from a non-French phone. Hence, you may accomplish this by holding down the “+” symbol on your phone or by dialing “00” before “33.”

Subsequently, France, like the United States, employs a regional area code, or indicatif téléphonique, to signify geographic location or a specific sort of phone number (similar to 1(800) or (888) in the United States). Thus, the following are the most popular prefixes:

Île-de-France 01 02 France’s Northwest 03 France’s Northeast 04 France’s Southeast 05 France’s Southwest 06 Cell phone services 07 Cell phone services

French Number System Phone Numbers

French speakers typically offer their phone numbers in two-digit pieces. In contrast, the United States generally provides a three-digit area code. Hence, three digits follow it, then four digits, with pauses (–) in between. Thus, these two-digit chunks are also pronounced like two-digit numerals in French.

USA: (555) 555-5555

Pronounced: five five five – five five five – five five five five

France: 05 55 55 55 55

Pronounced: zéro cinq – cinquante-cinq – cinquante-cinq – cinquante-cinq – cinquante-cinq


What is the return for all of this effort? You now also have a better understanding of the internet’s latest prank! So, take care to read it aloud using the above pronunciation guide:

A swimming race is also taking place between an English cat, a Spanish cat, and a French cat. One-two-three is the name of the English cat. Uno-dos-tres is the name of the Spanish cat. Un-Deux-Trois is the name of the French cat. Hence, the Spanish cat came in first, followed by the English cat, but the French cat was nowhere to be seen. Thus, the Un-deux-trois-quatre-cinquante-cinquante-cinquante-cin I hope it was worthwhile!

Numbers in French
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