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Numbers in Italian: Everything You Need to Know

numbers in italian

Welcome back to another one of our Italian lessons! Today we’re looking at something that seems so simple, but is actually one of the most important aspects of learning a language: nailing your numbers. Whether you’re counting to ten, asking for the time or writing the date, we’ve got you covered!

Learning your numbers in Italian really is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Luckily, the system is simple, regular and easy to follow. Don’t worry: after you’ve read our top tips, you’ll be counting in your sleep.

Simple numbers in Italian: 1 – 100

It may seem simple, but memorising these numbers will give you a perfect starting point to help with all your number-related problems. Something as easy as paying in a shop or booking a table at a restaurant will require knowledge of these numbers – and that’s where we come in.

We’re going to break it down into chunks for you, AND give you the correct pronunciation.

You’re welcome.

Let’s start at the beginning. As Julie Andrews will tell us, it’s a very good place to start.

Numbers 1 - 10
1
Uno
oo-noh
2
Due
doo-eh
3
Tre
treh
4
Quattro
kwat-roh
5
Cinque
cheen-kweh
6
Sei
seh-ee
7
Sette
set-teh
8
Otto
oht-to
9
Nove
noh-veh
10
Dieci
dee-eh-chee

That’s all there is to it! Practice counting to ten over and over again and before long, you’ll start to get the hang of it.

Unfortunately, once we hit ten, the regular pattern starts to go a little out the window. The good news, though, is that after 20, we’re all regular again. Phew! Read on to find out how to structure the ‘teens.

Numbers 11 – 20
11
Undici
oon-dee-chee
12
Dodici
doh-dee-chee
13
Tredici
treh-dee-chee
14
Quattordici
kwaht-tor-dee-chee
15
Quindici
kween-dee-chee
16
Sedici
seh-dee-chee
17
Diciassette
dee-chahs-set-eh
18
Diciotto
dee-choht-toh
19
Diciannove
dee-chahn-noh-veh
20
Venti
ven-tee

An easy(ish) way to remember this is that: after 16, the ‘dici part flips over to the front of the word. The spelling, unfortunately, you have to remember for yourself.

Numbers from 20 – 99

We’re now going to take a look at the way to structure numbers from 20 – 99. Thankfully, this follows a pretty clear pattern, which means that you won’t have to memorise nearly 100 numbers. Woo-hoo!

Let’s take the twenties as an example (because everyone knows that your twenties are the best years of your life).


21
Ventuno
ven-too-noh

22
Ventidue
ven-tee-doo-eh

23
Ventitré
ven-tee-treh

24
Ventiquattro
ven-tee-kwaht-troh

25
Venticinque
ven-tee-cheehn-kweh

26
Ventisei
ven-tee-seh-ee

27
Ventisette
ven-tee-set-the

28
Ventotto
ven-toht-toh

29
Ventinove
ven-tee-noh-veh

As you can see, the structure is really simple:


Venti + Number from 1-9


Or, if there’s a vowel at the beginning of the number (i.e. with 1 or 8):


Vent’ + Number


And this pattern is followed the whole way leading up to 100.

Let’s take a look now at the multiples of 10, from 30 – 90 (which are all super easy to remember).

30
Trenta
tren-tah
40
Quaranta
kwah-rahn-tah
50
Cinquanta
cheen-kwahn-tah
60
Sessanta
ses-sahn-tah
70
Settanta
set-tahn-tah
80
Ottanta
oht-tahn-ta
90
Novanta
noh-vahn-tah

So, using the same formula as above, you can work out any number between 20 and 99 that you could ever need! For example:


43 = Quaranta + Tre - Quarantatre

67 = Sessanta + Sette - Sessantasette

81 = Ottant’ + Uno - Ottantuno

Larger Numbers: 100/1000 etc…

Now that you’ve mastered the simple numbers that lead up to 100, it’s time to come to terms with those pesky big numbers. Even in your own language, these can seem overwhelming, but we’re here to help you get fully equipped with anything larger than 100.

The Hundreds

These are super simple. Once you remember the word for 100, this is your golden ticket to all the ‘hundreds’. This magical word is:

Cento

To put it bluntly, just shove a number between 2 and 9 in front of this and hey presto! That’s your number. Here’s a table to help you remember (and show you the pronunciation):

200
Duecento
doo-eh-chen-toh
300
Trecento
treh-chen-toh
400
Quattrocento
kwaht-troh-chen-toh
500
Cinquecento
cheen-kweh-chen-toh
600
Seicento
seh-ee-chen-toh
700
Settecento
set-teh-chen-toh
800
Ottocento
oht-toh-chen-toh
900
900
noh-veh-chen-toh

When you’re looking for a specific number between 100 and 1000, it works pretty similarly to the way we would speak in English. HOWEVER, while we would say, for example:

Three hundred and fifty-two

The Italian construction is even simpler, where they drop the ‘and’. So this would become, literally translated:

Trecento cinquantadue
(Three hundred fifty-two)

And it works this way for any of these numbers.

The Thousands

Before moving onto describing the thousands (which work in a similar way to the hundreds), I want to tell you about DECIMAL PLACES.

This probably sounds like something that wouldn’t make a big difference. HOWEVER, the use of commas and decimal places is totally different between English and Italian, and can sometimes cause a lot of confusion. A good example can be found in CURRENCY.

Let’s take the figure

£1,274.50

To anyone in the English-speaking world, this looks normal (albeit expensive). BUT, what you have to remember in Italian (and in many other European countries), the commas and the full stops are SWAPPED. So the above figure, if written in Euros, would become:

€1.274,50

And this is identical also for normal numbers (i.e. not currency-related). The decimal place is actually a decimal comma. Confusing, we know.

All that aside, let’s talk about the THOUSANDS.

The structure of the thousands is actually pretty similar to the hundreds, but this time our key word is:

Mille

Which obviously means ‘thousand/one thousand’. BUT as soon as we move past ‘one thousand’, mille becomes mila. Don’t ask us why.

Let’s look at the pattern in one of our trusty tables:


2000

Duemila

doo-eh-mee-lah

3000

Tremila

treh-mee-lah

4000

Quattromila

kwaht-troh-mee-lah

5000

Cinquemila

cheen-kweh-mee-lah

6000

Seimila

seh-ee-mee-lah

7000

Settemila

seht-teh-mee-lah

8000

Ottomila

oht-toh-mee-lah

9000

Novemila

noh-veh-mee-lah

Q: how do we construct a number between 1,000 and 10,000? A: by using the same method as we’ve already seen with the hundreds. Have a look at this example:

One thousand, seven hundred and twenty-six

In Italian, by dropping the ‘and’ again, we can easily construct any number within this bracket.

Mille settecento ventisei
(One thousand seven hundred twenty-six)

And it really is that simple! Once you get the hang of the patterns, you’ll find that Italian numbers are a piece of cake.

Ordinal Numbers

‘What on Earth are those?’ we hear you ask. Ordinal Numbers is just a fancy name for saying 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and so on. Luckily, Italian ordinal numbers are actually much more regular than their English counterparts, and after ‘10th’ all use the same ending. Yay!

Let’s take a look at the first 10 numbers.

1 st
primo
2nd
secondo
3rd
terzo
4th
quarto
5th
quinto
6th
sesto
7th
settimo
8th
ottavo
9th
nono
10th
decimo

Once you’ve memorised these, the rest is a doddle. Here’s how you structure any other ordinal number:

Number + “-esimo”

Here are some examples for you:


43rd = Quarantatre + esimo - Quarantatreesimo

57th = Cinquantasette + esimo - Cinquantasettesimo

82nd = Ottantadue + esimo - Ottantaduesimo

Dates

Writing the date in different languages is something that sounds simple – and, for the most part, is. But there are a few little details and differences to bear in mind that will really have you speaking like a native. Here’s an example of the date to highlight these key variations.

giovedì 4 aprile 2019

The first thing to note when writing the date in Italian is that they DO NOT USE ORDINAL NUMBERS. So this actually makes it quite a lot easier than English, and is also the same when you are speaking the date aloud. Instead of the FOURTH of April, today is actually the FOUR of April.

Secondly, neither the day of the week nor the month are capitalised – EVER. This goes for every time these words are used in any context (unless, obviously, they’re at the beginning of a sentence).

Now for something that a lot of people struggle with: the year. Again, this is much easier in Italian than in English. Taking the year 1972, we can explain to you the differences between the Italian way of expressing this aloud, and the English way. In English, we would split the date into two separate numbers, and say this date as:

Nineteen seventy-two

But in Italian, we would take this at face value: i.e., treat it as one whole number. We would therefore say (as we learned earlier on in this guide):

Mille novecento settantadue

(One thousand, nine hundred and seventy-two)

And this is the same for any year or date.

Telling the Time

While we’ve got you thinking about numbers, we’re going to talk you through how to express the time in Italian – which, again, has a few subtle differences from the English way of telling the time.

The simplest way to talk about the time in Italian is pretty much exactly the same as in English. 15:25 in English would be:

Three twenty-five

or

Twenty-five past three

Whereas, in Italian, you would simply say:

Tre e venticinque
(Three and twenty-five)

When you’re feeling a little more old-school, and want to go analogue instead of digital, take a look at the following table:

Quarter past
E un quarto
Half past
E mezzo
Quarter to
Meno un quarto

You can also use ‘meno for our equivalent of ‘ten to’ / ‘five to’ / ‘twenty to’ etc. For example, five to eleven would become:

Le undici meno cinque.

REMEMBER: time in Italian is always plural. So instead of saying:

It is ten ‘o’ clock

We would say:

Sono le dieci.

EXCEPT when it is: one ‘o’ clock, midday or midnight.

Conclusion

So that was our inclusive list of all things numerous. Hopefully now, when someone asks you for the date, time and number of cats you own, you’ll be able to answer them seamlessly. While a lot of this requires a good memory and determination, you’ll find that the regular patterns will help you as you’re learning to count, tell time and write the date in Italian.

We’ll have you sounding like a local in no time.

But until then, arrivederci!

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About the Author Abigail Prowse

Abi is an Italian translator and editor from the UK. Currently living in Lisbon, she loves anything to do with books and travelling. You can also check out her work at https://www.abitranslates.com/

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