Languages > Esperanto > Lesson 10: La Bovinoj Ŝatas Muĝi

Lesson 10: La Bovinoj Ŝatas Muĝi
Numbers and Counting

In this lesson we’ll cover how to count, use numbers in sentences, and even how to create fractions. If you’re not a numbers person then don’t worry, these are some very simple rules.

The Numbers

Dek Bovinoj - One to Ten

Here are the numbers from 1 to 10.

English Esperanto
one unu
two du
three tri
four kvar
five kvin
six ses
seven sep
eight ok
nine naux
ten dek

99 boteloj da biero sur la muro

Using these numbers, we can count all the way up to 99.

We can multiply “dek” by any of the above single-digit numbers by placing the number in front of “dek” such as “dudek” (twenty), “tridek” (thirty), “kvardek” (fourty), etc.

Numbers are then placed in descending order (greatest to least) to add them together.

English Esperanto Number
twelve dek du 12
thirteen dek tri 13
nineteen dek naux 19
twenty-one dudek unu 21
thirty-seven tridek sep 37
forty-three kvardek tri 43
fifty kvindek 50
sixty-five sesdek kvin 65
seventy sepdek 70
ninety-eight nauxdek ok 98

Notice how we don’t use “unudek”. If there is no number before a place specifier, then it is assumed to be “unu” (“one”).

The Hundreds

The word “cent” in Esperanto has the meaning of hundred. We can modify and add to it just like the tens above. Let’s take a look:

English Esperanto Number
one hundred cent 100
one hundred and forty-one cent kvardek unu 141
five hundred and twenty-three kvincent dudek tri 523
seven hundred and eighty two sepcent okdek du 782

The Thousands

The word “mil” in Esperanto has the meaning of thousand. We can modify it using any of the above numbers to produce that many thousands, then add another number after to specify the hundreds, tens, and ones places. This will get us up to 999,999.

In Mathy Terms: Let N and M be any numbers less than 1,000 and greater than 1 in Esperanto. Then “N mil M” has a value of N times 1,000 plus the value of M, where N is 1 if not specified, and M is optional.

Let’s see it in action:

English Esperanto Number
one thousand mil 1 000
four thousand kvar mil 4 000
seven thousand, two hundred sep mil ducent 7 200
ninety-six thousand, three hundred and forty-nine nauxdek ses mil tricent kvardek naux 96 349
four hundred and seventeen thousand, five hundred and sixty three kvarcent dek sep mil kvincent sesdek tri 417 563

For any number past 999 999, please use our table of large numbers in Esperanto.

Applying Our New Ability

We can now count! That’s exciting. But how do we apply numbers to actual objects such as “two people”, “four wheels”, or “five hundred thousand cats”?

In Esperanto we can place the counting word (quantifier), on either side of the noun phrase that it is counting. Even though this is the case, it is still most common to put the quantifier before the noun phrase, just like English.

It’s important to note that the noun, and any adjectives, should take the accusative case (suffix ‘-n’) like normal. And since we are specifying multiples of an object, the noun should have the plural suffix ‘-j’.

English Esperanto
Twenty-four hours Dudek kvar horoj
Two young men Du junaj viroj
Five hundred thousand dollars Kvincent mil dolaroj


Fractions are made of two parts, the numerator (the number on the top half of a fraction), and the denominator (the number on the bottom half of a fraction)


The numerator will always be a cardinal number.


For numbers in the denominator, we use the suffix “-on-”. This suffix can be used to specify fractions as a noun, an adjective, or even a verb.

Making a Fraction

Fractions take the form of:

<numerator number> <denominator (suffixed) number>

If no numerator number is present, then the numerator is assumed to be 1. If the numerator is greater than one, then the denominator must take the plural form (‘-j’ suffix).

Numerator Denominator Esperanto
1 2 duono
1 4 kvarono
2 5 du kvinonoj
17 30 deksep tridekonoj
7 13 sep dek trionoj

Note: That last one is tricky. It introduces ambiguity when spoken, where the speaker could be saying “sepdek trionoj” (70/3) or “sep dek trionoj” (7/30). This would most likely be solved using a pause after “sep” to signify that “sep” is the numerator, and “dek trionoj” is the denominator.


Now that we’re very comfortable with cardinal numbers. I would like to introduce ordinal numbers. Ordinal numbers are numbers that specify a place within an order. In English, these are words such as “first”, “second”, “third”, etc.

In Esperanto, all we have to do is add the suffix for adjectives (“-a”) to the number, and thusly obtain our ordinal number. Let’s match it up to English:

English Esperanto
first unua
second dua
third tria
fourth kvara
... ...
twenty-third dudek tria
twenty-fourth dudek kvara

Here are some examples of how they can be used - it’s very similar to English.

Esperanto English
Estas mia unua fojo It's my first time
Mi laboras je la sepa etagxo I work on the seventh floor
Estas la tria fojo ke birdoj sxtelis mian mangxajxon It's the third time that birds have stolen my food
Mi perdis la unuan vetkuron sed gajnis la duan I lost the first race, but won the second
Esperanto estas mia dua lingvo Esperanto is my second language

We can even use these ordinals as adverbs!

Esperanto English
Unue mi pensas ke vi devas vidi sin spegule First, I think you should see yourself in the mirror
Unue gxi ne estas la via. Due oni ne povas mangxi lunojn, kaj trie kiel vi atingos gxin? Firstly it's not yours. Secondly one cannot eat moons, and thirdly how will you reach it?

You’re Now A Count! ?

You can now count with the best of them. You’ve just learned cardinal numbers, ordinal numbers, and fractions. The way that I learned my numbers best was to count from 1 to 100 whenever I had a spare minute or two. If you’re feeling really confident, then try counting down from 100 to 1 as well.

Pop on over to the vocabulary tab to start playing games that will include most of these numbers, as well as other vocabulary that you’ve encountered during the lesson. Then test your counting abilities with the quiz.

Happy learning!

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