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How to Count in French: Numbers 0-1,000 and Beyond

If your goal is to become conversationally fluent in French, you have to learn French numbers.

Think of all the times you hear or read numbers daily in English. They’re everywhere—on the news, in stores, on your phone, etc.

In this blog post, you’ll learn French numbers from 1 to 1,000 and beyond. Plus how to count in French like a native.


Numbers 1 to 19 in French

After zéro  (0), you could probably already name some of the first 19 numbers:

The number 17 in French is literally “ten-seven”, 18 is “ten-eight” and so on.

Numbers 20 to 69 in French

The numbers between 20 and 69 follow the same pattern as the first 19 numbers, but we need to memorize each multiple of 10 first:

The nine numbers following each of those use a similar pattern. So for numbers 20 to 30, we have:

This is true for all numbers up to 69.

For example:

35 — trente-cinq

French accepts both hyphens and no hyphens in numbers, so some people would write 21 as vingt et un.

To be consistent, I’m following the Rectifications orthographiques du français en 1990, which recommends putting a hyphen between each digit of a number.

The only exception: million  is never hyphenated.

Special cases: 21, 31, 41, 51, 61

Did you notice anything strange in the numbers above? Most—though not all—numbers above 20 that end in “one” include et  (and) between the two digits.

For example:

21 — vingt-et-un (literally: twenty-and-one)

41 — quarante-et-un  (literally: forty-and-one)

Numbers 70 to 79 in French

70 in French is literally “sixty-ten,” soixante-dix The numbers from 70 to 79 follow this pattern, meaning 71 is “sixty-eleven,” 72 is “sixty-twelve,” and so forth.

Take a look:

Note: the numbers up to 69 are the same everywhere, but in Belgium and Switzerland, 70 is called septante . For example:

75 — septante-cinq

Numbers 80 to 99 in French

If that wasn’t crazy enough, we say quatre-vingts , or “four twenties” for 80.

For numbers 80-89, Belgium follows the French method quatre-vingts, but Switzerland uses either octante or huitante , depending on the region.

So in Switzerland, 85 would be…

octante-cinq or huitante-cinq

In the next set of numbers, we continue with our same base of 80, rather than a new word for “ninety.” This means the number 90 will literally be “eighty-ten,” 91, “eighty-eleven,” etc.—just like with the 70s.

Note that although 71 is written soixante-et-onze (with et), 81 and 91 are not:



Lastly, for 90-99, both Belgium and Switzerland use nonante . So nonante-cinq  means 95.

These counting methods are also used locally in parts of France near Belgium or Switzerland.

Numbers Beyond 100 in French

I think cent and mille are the most interesting.

Think of all the words in English that stem from these:






With this knowledge, we can say complex numbers.

For example, the number 2,376,974 is deux millions trois-cent-soixante-seize-mille-neuf-cent-soixante-quatorze , always reading left to right.

Here it’s broken down into smaller parts, so you can see how I group together the millions, thousands and hundreds when saying the number:

2 376 974 — deux millions  (two million)

2 376 974 — trois-cent-soixante-seize-mille (three hundred seventy-six thousand)

2 376 974 — neuf-cent-soixante-quatorze (nine hundred seventy-four)

Decimals and commas

For large numbers in French, groups of three numerals are usually separated by spaces. The English number 50,000 would thus be written as 50 000.

In France, the decimal is replaced with a comma. For example, 3.5 (three and a half) would be written as 3,5 in French and called trois virgule cinq .

Ordinal Numbers in French

Ordinal numbers in English are “first,” “second,” “third,” etc. These are pretty straightforward in French.

Apart from premier / première  (first), you tack on ième to a number to turn it into an ordinal number.

For example:

2nd — deuxième

3rd — troisième


Apart from premier, these are gender-neutral.

French Gender and Number Agreement

A number ending in one can agree in gender with whatever it’s modifying.

So the story “1,001 Nights” is translated as Mille-et-une Nuits  since nuit is feminine.

If un (one) is the last word in a phrase, it doesn’t agree in gender with the preceding noun. For example:

la page un — page one

While these rules can be tricky, the best way to learn them is through repetitive memorization and immersing yourself in the French language.

Numbers come up in conversations all the time, so listening and looking for them in French subtitles of media is an excellent way to get accustomed to them. And thanks to technology, you can easily do so with platforms like YouTube and Netflix.

And it’s even easier with FluentU.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

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When Do You Use Hyphens for Numbers in French?

Hyphens connect the digits of numbers 17-99 in French. The only exception is whole tens.

Numbers 17-19 have a hyphen between dix and the single digit (sept, huit or neuf).

Numbers 21-69 have a hyphen between the tens and ones (except for when they’re whole tens, such as “thirty” or “forty”). For example, vingt-et-un (21).

71-99 also have three hyphens.

Percentages and Fractions in French

The word for percentage in French is “pour cent.” For example:

23% = vingt-trois pour cent
50% = cinquante pour cent
100% = cent pour cent

To talk about fractions, you need to use ordinal numbers for the denominator. Cardinal numbers are the numerator.

Here’s some basic vocabulary to help you with this:

Demi / Moitié  — Half

Une demi / Une moitié — a half, one half

Un tiers — one-third

Un quart — one-fourth

Deux tiers — two-thirds

Trois quarts — three-fourths

Deux cinquièmes — two-fifths

Trois huitièmes — three-eighths

Deux et demi / Deux et une demi — two and a half

Basic Math in French

Doing basic math is pretty straightforward in French. Here are a few basic vocab words you’ll need:

Ajouter — to add

Plus — plus

Égal (e)(s) — equals

Soustraire — to subtract

Moins — minus

Multiplier — to multiply

Fois — times

Diviser — to divide

Divisé par — divided by

Dates in French

French dates follow the format of “day of the week, the day of the month, month, year.”

But the format is usually “day + number + month + year” in writing and speaking.

Finally, the preposition le is used before the day and the number.

For example:

le 14 février 2023  = February 14, 2023

le 1er mars 2023  / le premier mars 2023  = March 1, 2023

Years in French are read as full numbers. This is different from English, where the year is often split into two parts.

1999 = mille neuf cent quatre-vingt-dix-neuf

2023 = deux mille vingt-trois

How to Practice Counting in French

  • Anytime you deal with numbers, think of them in French. I do this instinctively. If I check the time, I say to myself, Il est huit heures. (It’s 8 a.m.) If I have to count something, I do it in French. So a recipe doesn’t call for 10 eggs, it calls for une dizaine d’œufs !
  • Watch French documentaries. Documentaries abound in numbers, usually complicated ones featuring growth or decline over time and lots of different years. Try to watch documentaries like this and write out any numbers they mention.
  • Learn math in French. If you like math, YouTube and the Internet in general have great resources geared for French math students that would not only make you work with numbers but also teach you the vocab used in French mathematics.
  • Take online quizzes. Quizzes are an oldie but goodie, and there are many options online. For instance, Sporcle, an entertainment trivia website, offers a timed quiz on French numbers 1-20 and each subsequent tens set (30, 40, 50, etc.) up to 100. Quizlet is another popular option, offering quizzes plus flashcards and games.
  • Practice French numbers in context. Grab a partner and delegate one person to play the role of the shopkeeper and the other to act as the customer. If you don’t have a partner, don’t sweat it—play both parts (or find one using a French language exchange app).
  • Apply your numbers knowledge to money. Dealing with money is something you already do every day in English, and you’ll do it while abroad in a French-speaking country. Familiarize yourself with the euro and learn how to form sentences with French numbers and currency. YouLearnFrench has a great video that simulates an exchange between a shopper and an employee at the grocery store.


French numbers can be puzzling even to advanced students, yet learning them is a rewarding experience that will put another piece of the French puzzle into place.

So get counting!

And one more thing...

If you like learning French on your own time and from the comfort of your smart device, then I'd be remiss to not tell you about FluentU.

FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:


FluentU brings native French videos with reach. With interactive captions, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.


For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:


Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with learn mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning, and play the mini-games found in our dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."


All throughout, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a totally personalized experience. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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