Learn how to count in French

Counting 1-100 in French and Everything About French Numbers

French Numbers Can Be a Headache

Bonjour! If you are learning French, you might have started complaining about French numbers.

In this article, if you wish to be the master of numbers in French. A quick overview of the content:

  • French numbers: 1-100
  • French numbers: the hundreds and the thousands
  • French numbers: above the thousands
  • Maths in French
  • Years, Fractions, Phone Numbers in French
  • Fun facts about French numbers

My name is Eden, and I’ve been teaching French for 5 years. Let me show you and guide you through the world of French numbers. Looking for tips on learning languages in general? Don’t forget to check out our guide to language learning.

Vous êtes prêts ? Trois, deux, un… C’est parti! Let’s begin counting in French!

French Numbers: Counting from 1 to 10 in French

First of all, let’s start with the basics. Counting from 1 to 10 in French is quite easy. The numbers are all independent. You just need to memorize them.

1 Un
2 Deux
3 Trois
4 Quatre
5 Cinq
6 Six
7 Sept
8 Huit
9 Neuf
10 Dix

French Numbers: Counting from 10 to 20 in French

When you are counting from 10 to 20 in French, you can now see two types of numbers : independent and composed numbers.

Numbers FR Literally (EN)
10 Dix Ten
11 Onze Eleven
12 Douze Twelve
13 Treize Thirteen
14 Quatorze Fourteen
15 Quinze Fifteen
16 Seize Sixteen
17 Dix-sept Seventeen (Ten-seven)
18 Dix-huit Eighteen (Ten-eight)
19 Dix-neuf Nineteen (Ten-nine)
20 Vingt Twenty

As you might have noticed, from 17 to 19 (dix-sept, dix-huit, dix-neuf) we have a first glance of composed numbers : ten-seven, ten-eight and ten-nine. Vingt is an independent number.
SIde note: there are hyphens (-) for composed numbers.

Counting from 20 to 70 in French

Let’s now have a look at counting from 20 to 70.

20 to 70 in French

You may see that vingt, trente, quarante, cinquante and soixante are independent numbers. Inside those numbers, we have composed numbers.

Notice how only “21,31,41,51,61” take an “et” (and) in between. The pattern from 20 to 69 is the same. Isn’t it easy ? Un jeu d’enfant!

How about 70?

Well, once you reach 70, the pattern changes. Let’s take a closer look in the next sectioin.

Counting from 70 to 80 in French

Now, the pattern from 70 to 80 changes, and super easy addition is involved.

Numbers FR EN (literal)
70 Soixante-dix Seventy
(70 = 60+10 = sixty-ten)
71 Soixante-et-onze Sixty-and-eleven
(60+11)
72 Soixante-douze Sixty-twelve
74 Soixante-quatorze Sixty-fourteen
75 Soixante-quinze Sixty-fifteen
76 Soixante-seize Sixty-sixteen
77 Soixante-dix-sept Sixty-ten-seven
78 Soixante-dix-huit Sixty-ten-eight
79 Soixante-dix-neuf Sixty-ten-nine
80 Quatre-vingts Four-twenties

As you have probably noticed, the pattern from 70 to 80 changes. Once we reach 70 (60 + 10 in French, or “Soixante-dix“, which is somehow logical!), we continue the same way after “10” : soixante-et-onze, soixante-douze, soixante-treize, all up to 80 (4 x 20 or “Quatre-vingts”).

Counting from 81 to 100 in French

Now, similar to counting from 61-79, counting from 81 to 99 in French is done by adding 1-19 to 80.

Numbers FR EN (lit.)
80 Quatre-vingts Four-twenties
81 Quatre-vingt-un Four-twenty-one
82 Quatre-vingt-deux Four-twenty-two
83 Quatre-vingt-trois Four-twenty-three
84 Quatre-vingt-quatre Four-twenty-four
85 Quatre-vingt-cinq Four-twenty-five
86 Quatre-vingt-six Four twenty-six
87 Quatre-vingt-sept Four-twenty-seven
88 Quatre-vingt-huit Four-twenty-eight
89 Quatre-vingt-neuf Four-twenty-nine
90 Quatre-vingt-dix Four-twenty-ten
91 Quatre-vingt-onze Four-twenty-eleven
92 Quatre-vingt-douze Four-twenty-twelve
93 Quatre-vingt-treize Four-twenty-thirteen
94 Quatre-vingt-quatorze Four-twenty-fourteen
95 Quatre-vingt-quinze Four-twenty-fifteen
96 Quatre-vingt-seize Four-twenty-sixteen
97 Quatre-vingt-dix-sept Four-twenty-ten-seven
98 Quatre-vingt-dix-huit Four-twenty-ten-eight
99 Quatre-vingt-dix-neuf Four-twenty-ten-nine
100 Cent One hundred

Also, “quatre-vingt-un” does not add an extra “et” before “un”, unlike the other patterns.

Regarding the “s” at the end of “quatre-vingts”, it only applies when “quatre-vingts” is not followed by any other numeral: quatre-vingts euros BUT quatre-vingt-trois euros.

Fun Facts about Numbers in French

In French-speaking Belgium and Switzerland, people don’t say “soixante-dix, quatre-vingts, quatre-vingt-dix”. They will instead follow the usual pattern as from 20 to 60 and use :

Septante instead of Soixante-dix.
Octante or Huitante instead of Quatre-vingts (only in Switzerland).
Nonante instead of Quatre-vingt-dix.

This would be more logical if you take a step back and look at how 40, 50 and 60 are written. But French will always be French and if there are no complications in the language… it’s not real French!

French Numbers: What happens after 100?

Afterwards, let’s move on to the hundreds. It’s very similar to the English way of counting hundreds. Take a look at this table:

Hundreds (centaines) FR
100 Cent
200 Deux-cents
300 Trois-cents
400 Quatre-cents
500 Cinq-cents
600 Six-cents
700 Sept-cents
800 Huit-cents
900 Neuf-cents
1000 Mille
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If you would like to read composed numbers out loud, let me show you how to do it:

Let’s take 152 as an example: cent-cinquante-deux. There are no particular tricks here, just assembling the numbers together. Hundreds + tens and units.

Now let’s do the same thing with 368 : trois-cent-soixante-huit. Have you noticed something? Yes. The “s” of “trois-cents” has disappeared. This rule is the same as the “s” of “quatre-vingts” : if it’s above 100 and not followed by any other numeral, the “s” stays (deux-cents, trois-cents…).

Before you go ahead and read the next paragraph, try to train yourself and figure out how to spell these numbers now:

145 – 324 – 294 – 569 – 812 – 900

Answer:

Cent-quarante-cinq / Trois-cent-vingt-quatre / Deux-cent-quatre-vingt-quatorze / Cinq-cent-soixante-neuf / Huit-cent-douze / Neuf-cents.

French Numbers: The Thousands

Thousands in French. Surprisingly, reading thousands in French is not the hardest part of the numbers chapter !

Thousands (milliers) FR
1000 Mille
2000 Deux-mille
3000 Trois-mille
4000 Quatre-mille
5000 Cinq-mille
6000 Six-mille
7000 Sept-mille
8000 Huit-mille
9000 Neuf-mille
10 000 Dix-mille
100 000 Cent-mille
500 000 Cinq-cent-mille

In the case of thousands, “mille” stays the same, regardless if it’s followed by another numeral or none.

Reading years in French

Reading years in French is simple, it only requires a little bit of training with numbers. The trick is to decompose the year into thousands + hundreds + tens and units :

1952 = mille neuf-cent-cinquante-deux (1000 / 900 / 52)
1879 = mille-huit-cent-soixante-dix-neuf (1000 / 800 / 79)

Now, your turn! Train yourself how to read these numbers (or years) out loud:

2014 – 1789 – 1515 – 1981 – 1993 – 2003

Answers:

Deux-mille-quatorze / Mille-sept-cent-quatre-vingt-neuf / Mille-cinq-cent-quinze / Mille-neuf-cent-quatre-vingt-un / Mille-neuf-cent-quatre-vingt-treize / Deux-mille-trois.

French Numbers: Above Thousands

Above thousands come millions and billions:

One million (EN)= un million (FR)
Billion (EN) = un milliard (FR)

For composed numbers… you know the drill.

Mathematics in French

Add, subtract, multiply and divide in French

Reading mathematics is something that you might also have to master if you really want to know how to count in French. Here’s how you do it :

FR EN Example
Addition
__ plus ___
Add Un plus deux
Soustraction
__ moins __
Subtract Deux moins un
Multiplication
__ fois __
__ multiplié par __
Multiply Trois fois cinq
Trois multiplié par cinq
Division
__ divisé par __
Divide Dix divisé par deux
Est égal à __ Equals Un plus deux est égal à trois

Fractions in French

How do you read fractions in French? This first table will show you how to read some fixed expressions:

Usual fractions FR
1/2 Un demi
1/3 Un tiers
1/4 Un quart
1/5 Un cinquième
1/10 Un dixième
1/20 Un vingtième

Regarding other types of fractions, you will have to use this pattern:

(number) SUR (number)

Let me show you an example: 5/20 = cinq sur vingt. Easy, right?

And what if you would like to read a number such as x.y? (0.5 , 2.9 … )

Regarding decimal separators (the period between numbers) in French, we don’t use the period. In fact, we will use a comma (“,“) to separate decimals : 0,5 – 2,9 … If you would like to pronounce them out loud, just add “virgule” (comma) in between.

0,5 = zéro virgule cinq  / 2,9 = deux virgule neuf .

Percentages in French

To read percentages in French, it’s even easier. You only will need to add “pourcent(s)” (or “pour cent”) at the end of your number. 15% = quinze pourcents / pour cent.

Note that “pourcent” will change and agree with the number (if there is more than 1%, then “pourcent” will be written with an “s”). “Pour cent”, on the other side, will always be invariable. In other words, “pourcent” is “per-hundred”, a noun, and “pour cent” is the noun phrase “per one hundred”.

How to read phone numbers in French

Finally, let’s take a look at our last part of how to count in French… phone numbers! This may not be exactly counting, as I would say, but it’s part of the daily life. Note that most French telephone numbers are written this way :

0x xx xx xx xx (Example: 04 . 98 . 10 . 20 . 32)

So we read them by pairs (zéro quatre , quatre-vingt-dix-huit, dix, vingt, trente-deux).

However, you may stumble upon different numbers using different formats (such as 3 by 3 instead of pairs), you may read them using “hundreds” :

851 – 121 (huit-cent-cinquante-et-un / cent-vingt-et-un)

Conclusion

There you go! You now know pretty much everything about reading numbers in French and you may now start counting in French.

The key here is to train yourself to read numbers out loud, a little bit exercise with LingoDeer goes a long way.

Remember, with hard work and practice, it will be easier for you to master reading and pronouncing French numbers. Au revoir et à bientôt!

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