The German ordinal numeral

The ordinal numeral

Ordnungszahlwörter (Ordinalia)

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With the help of the ordinal numeral it is possible to concieve the order of the cointed objects.

Examples: first, second, third, fourth etc.

In german the ordinal numbers are formed with the help od the ending "-te" added to the cardinal number, exceptions: eins, drei, sieben and acht which have special forms. The ordinal numbers from 20 to 99 are formed by adding the ending "-ste" and from 100 to 119 they get again the ending "-te"


-    from 1 to 19 the main rule is: number + the ending "-te", exceptions: 1, 3, 7 and 8

1.   erste (first) – not einste

2.   zweite (second)

3.   dritte (third) – not dreiste

4.   vierte (fourth)

5.    fünfte (fifth)

6.   sechste (sixth)

7.   siebte (seventh) – not  siebente

8.   achte (eigth) – not achtte

9.   neunte (ninth)

10.   zehte (tenth)

11.   elfte (eleventh)

12.   zwölfte (twelfth)


the same way 'till 19


-  frorm 20 to 99, the rule is the following: number + the ending "-ste"

20. zwanzigste (the twentieth)

25. fünfundzwanzigste (the twenty-fifth)

31. einundreißigste (the thirty-first)

57. siebenundfünfzigste (the fifty-seventh)

99. neunundneunzigste (the ninety-ninth)

the same way all the numbers from 20 to 100


-  from 100 to 119, the rule is: number + the ending "-te"

100. einhunderte (the hundreth)

101. hunderterste (the hundreth and first)

109. hundertneunte (the hundred and ninth)

113. hunderdreizehnte (the hundred and thirteenth)

118. hundertachzehnte (the hundred and eihteenth)

the same way for all ordinal numbers from 100 to 119


- the ordinal number from 119: number + ending "-ste"

120. hundertzwanzigste (the hundred twentieth)

1132. tausendhundertzweiunddreißigste (the thousand hundred thirty-second)


Good to know!

When the ordinal numeral stands between an article and a noun, the article shows the gender of the noun.


der erste Mann = the first man

die erste Frau = the first woman

das dritte Kind = the third child


When the ordinal number is not preceded by an article but it is followed by a noun, we have the following situation:

- the ordinal numeral gets the ending "-r" when it is placed before a masculine gender noun; it gets the ending "-s" before a neuter gender noun and it gets the ending "-n" when it is placed before a plural noun.


Erster Mann = first man

Erste Frau = first woman (no changes before feminine nouns)

Erstes Kind = first child

Ersten Spieler = first players

 Grammar | Other numerals