How to Say Numbers in Spanish
Now, it’s time to learn Spanish numbers.
Starting out: 0 to 35
Masculine and Feminine Numbers
You don’t have to worry about gender with numbers 90% of the time. However, if you are talking about one thing, or are using a number that ends in 1, you need to change the ending to reflect the gender of the noun that the number is describing.
If a number ends in 1, change the ending according to whether or not the number is referring to a masculine or feminine noun. (The ending will only change according to gender, not by whether the noun is singular or plural.)
• “un” for masculine, e.g. un perro, un año, un lápiz
• “una” for feminine, e.g. una vaca, una flor, una chica
1. Eduardo tiene treinta y un años de edad.
- (Edward is thirty-one years old.)
2. Necesito veintiuna invitaciones más.
- (I need twenty-one more invitations.)
However … if you want to talk about the number 1 (or 21 or 31) on its own (i.e., as a numerical term rather than a quantity), you will not have to worry about gender. You will simply use “uno.” For example, if you want to say that 20 + 1 = 21, you will say:
Veinte más uno son veintiuno.
Numbers from 36 to 102
Once you master the basic pattern, you can construct any number. For example, how would you say 135? Simply remember: 135 = 100 + 30 + “and” + 5.
Ciento + treinta + y + cinco = ciento treinta y cinco
Although the number 100 is cien, any number between 101 and 199 starts with ciento.
199 = ciento + noventa + y + nueve = ciento noventa y nueve
Asking How Much or How Many
In Spanish, the question “How many?” is asked with one simple word:
If you are asking how many oranges (las naranjas) there are, however, you must ask, “¿Cuántas?” as oranges are feminine.
If you want to know how much something costs (el costo), ask: “¿Cuánto cuesta?” Can you guess why you use cuánto instead of cuántos Here’s a hint: is “el costo” singular or plural?
A response to “How many?” will often begin “There are….” For example,
How many (orange are there)? - ¿Cuántas (naranjas hay)?
There are 10 oranges. - Hay diez naranjas.
Fortunately, in Spanish there is no difference between “there is” and “there are.” You can say both of them with a single word:
You can also use “hay” to ask the questions: “Is there?” or “Are there?”
You may also be interested to know that the words unos and unas can also mean “some.” For example:
• Tengo unas flores. - (I have some flowers.)
• Quiero unos pantalones. -(I want some pants.)
Numbers from 101
Be careful … some of these numbers can be tricky.
Unlike English, you do not say “one thousand” for the number 1000 in Spanish (un mil is incorrect), but simply use the word “mil.”
Also note that when you get to the thousands, the word for “thousand” in Spanish, mil, does not have a separate plural form. Two thousand is dos mil, NOT ‘dos miles.’
The only time mil is used in its plural form (miles) is when you talk about “thousands” of something in general, using it in the sense of “many” rather than any particular number. For example,
Hay miles de peces en el mar.
- (There are thousands of fish in the sea.)
Tengo un millón doscientos mil quinientos pesos en el banco.
- (I have 1,200,500 pesos in the bank.)
Hay cincuenta mil automóviles en la carretera.
- (There are 50,000 automobiles on the highway.)
En Chile hay más o menos trece millones de habitantes.
- (In Chile, there are more or less 13,000,000 inhabitants.)
Don’t Forget the Gender
Not only will you continue to change the gender of numbers ending in 1 when used as a quantity, you will also change the gender of numbers ending in –tos (i.e., the hundreds) to reflect the noun they describe.
Reverse Puncuation: How to Write Big Numbers
If you are in Spain and about to write down a number for some Spanish friends, you need to be careful with your punctuation! Periods and commas are reversed in Spanish numbers. For example, if you want to tell them that something costs $12,870.65, you need to write it down as $12.870,65.
Although some parts of the Spanish-speaking world do follow the American convention, it helps to know that €99,95 is not a typo in Spain, so don’t go looking for a missing final digit!
In the next section we’ll work on How to Tell the Time in Spanish