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Ordinal Numbers with Definition and Examples

Counting is one of the first things we learn at school. One, two, three – all of us know how to count up to large numbers, like one hundred! We can count on our fingers, in our heads, and write the numbers down on paper too!

Counting numbers are also called cardinal numbers. They help us answer questions starting with “How many?”. For instance, if someone asks “How many tacos do you want?”, you might reply “Two tacos!” Here, ‘two’ is a cardinal number.

But there’s another way of using numbers called ordinal numbers. It’s useful when you’re trying to tell someone the position of an object. Let’s learn more about them.

What are Ordinal Numbers?

Ordinal numbers don’t tell you how many objects there are in total. But in a large collection of stuff, you can easily pinpoint a single object using them! Imagine there are five apples in a row and you want to eat the middle one. What do you say? Something like, “I want the third apple!” Here, ‘third’ is an ordinal number.

Ordinal numbers are named so because they tell you the order of an object in a series. We use ordinal numbers all the time! If someone wins a race, we say they came first. Here, ‘first’ is an ordinal number. 

Examples of Ordinal Numbers

There is an ordinal number for every cardinal number! As the cardinal numbers go one, two, three, four, the ordinal numbers go first, second, third, fourth and so on. Let us look at some of the first few ordinal numbers:

Ordinal Numbers
first
second
third
fourth
fifth
sixth
seventh
eighth
ninth
tenth
eleventh
twelfth
thirteenth
fourteenth
fifteenth
sixteenth
seventeenth
eighteenth
nineteenth
twentieth

Notice something interesting? Almost all of these ordinal numbers end with the letters ‘th’, except for ‘first’, ‘second’, and ‘third’! In fact, for all numbers over 20 whose last digit isn’t 1, 2 or 3, their ordinal number ends in ‘th’! 

For example, the ordinal number for 45 is forty-fifth, and for 99 it’s ninety-ninth. But the ordinal number for 21 is twenty-first, and for 53 it’s fifty-third!

Cardinal Numbers vs Ordinal Numbers

Cardinal numbers tell us about the total amount of objects, like 5 cats or 7 dogs. But they cannot be used to tell the position of a single object. If you were 9 years old, you could simply say your age is nine! But what if you wanted to invite someone to your next birthday?

You could say, “Please come to my birthday, when I turn ten!” But that’s a lot of words! Or you could use ordinal numbers and say, “You’re invited to my tenth birthday!” Easy, isn’t it?

Ordinal numbers are used to describe the ranking or order of an object. You can’t use ordinal numbers in place of cardinal numbers! If someone said they’re the second tallest in their class, we wouldn’t know the total number of students in that class!

We know cardinal numbers can be written as 1, 2, 3 and so forth. We can write ordinal numbers similarly too! Take the ordinal number ‘second’. We start with the related cardinal number: 2. Then, we write the last two letters of ‘second’ after 2: 2nd. And there you go! You can now write first as 1st, third as 3rd, and so on!

List of Ordinal Numbers from 1-100

Let’s learn ordinal and cardinal numbers from 1-100:

Cardinal NumbersOrdinal Number
One1First1st
Two2Second2nd
Three3Third3rd
Four4Fourth4th
Five5Fifth5th
Six6Sixth6th
Seven7Seventh7th
Eight8Eighth8th
Nine9Ninth9th
Ten10Tenth10th
Eleven11Eleventh11th
Twelve12Twelfth12th
Thirteen13Thirteenth13th
Fourteen14Fourteenth14th
Fifteen15Fifteenth15th
Sixteen16Sixteenth16th
Seventeen17Seventeenth17th
Eighteen18Eighteenth18th
Nineteen19Nineteenth19th
Twenty20Twenty20th
Twenty-One21Twenty-First21st
Twenty-Two22Twenty-Second22nd
Twenty-Three23Twenty-Third23rd
Twenty-Four24Twenty-Fourth24th
Twenty-Five25Twenty-Fifth25th
Twenty-Six26Twenty-Sixth26th
Twenty-Seven27Twenty-Seventh27th
Twenty-Eight28Twenty-Eighth28th
Twenty-Nine29Twenty-Ninth29th
Thirty30Thirty30th
Thirty-One31Thirty-First31st
Thirty-Two32Thirty-Second32nd
Thirty-Three33Thirty-Third33rd
Thirty-Four34Thirty-Fourth34th
Thirty-Five35Thirty-Fifth35th
Thirty-Six36Thirty-Sixth36th
Thirty-Seven37Thirty-Seventh37th
Thirty-Eight38Thirty-Eighth38th
Thirty-Nine39Thirty-Ninth39th
Forty40Forty40th
Forty-One41Forty-First41st
Forty-Two42Forty-Second42nd
Forty-Three43Forty-Third43rd
Forty-Four44Forty-Fourth44th
Forty-Five45Forty-Fifth45th
Forty-Six46Forty-Sixth46th
Forty-Seven47Forty-Seventh47th
Forty-Eight48Forty-Eighth48th
Forty-Nine49Forty-Ninth49th
Fifty50Fifty50th
Fifty-One51Fifty-First51st
Fifty-Two52Fifty-Second52nd
Fifty-Three53Fifty-Third53rd
Fifty-Four54Fifty-Fourth54th
Fifty-Five55Fifty-Fifth55th
Fifty-Six56Fifty-Sixth56th
Fifty-Seven57Fifty-Seventh57th
Fifty-Eight58Fifty-Eighth58th
Fifty-Nine59Fifty-Ninth59th
Sixty60Sixty60th
Sixty-One61Sixty-First61st
Sixty-Two62Sixty-Second62nd
Sixty-Three63Sixty-Third63rd
Sixty-Four64Sixty-Fourth64th
Sixty-Five65Sixty-Fifth65th
Sixty-Six66Sixty-Sixth66th
Sixty-Seven67Sixty-Seventh67th
Sixty-Eight68Sixty-Eighth68th
Sixty-Nine69Sixty-Ninth69th
Seventy70Seventy70th
Seventy-One71Seventy-First71st
Seventy-Two72Seventy-Second72nd
Seventy-Three73Seventy-Third73rd
Seventy-Four74Seventy-Fourth74th
Seventy-Five75Seventy-Fifth75th
Seventy-Six76Seventy-Sixth76th
Seventy-Seven77Seventy-Seventh77th
Seventy-Eight78Seventy-Eighth78th
Seventy-Nine79Seventy-Ninth79th
Eighty80Eighty80th
Eighty-One81Eighty-First81st
Eighty-Two82Eighty-Second82nd
Eighty-Three83Eighty-Third83rd
Eighty-Four84Eighty-Fourth84th
Eighty-Five85Eighty-Fifth85th
Eighty-Six86Eighty-Sixth86th
Eighty-Seven87Eighty-Seventh87th
Eighty-Eight88Eighty-Eighth88th
Eighty-Nine89Eighty-Ninth89th
Ninety90Ninety90th
Ninety-One91Ninety-First91st
Ninety-Two92Ninety-Second92nd
Ninety-Three93Ninety-Third93rd
Ninety-Four94Ninety-Fourth94th
Ninety-Five95Ninety-Fifth95th
Ninety-Six96Ninety-Sixth96th
Ninety-Seven97Ninety-Seventh97th
Ninety-Eight98Ninety-Eighth98th
Ninety-Nine99Ninety-Ninth99th
One Hundred100One Hundredth100th

Where do we use Ordinal Numbers?

We use ordinal numbers in our day-to-day lives. In competitions, the top three positions are first, second and third! In an elevator, we press a button to go to the sixth floor! We also use ordinal numbers to give instructions – first step, second step, and so on! 

A recipe for making pancakes might begin with “First, melt butter. Second, warm some milk.” If we want something done quickly, we say “Do this first!” We use ordinal numbers while giving directions too – like “Take the third left down the street!”

We use ordinal numbers in titles of kings and queens: King Charles the First, or Queen Elizabeth the Second. We also use them when writing dates! For instance, Fourth of July or January 10th. We even find ordinal numbers in idioms! For example, to complete your homework at the Eleventh Hour means to do it just before you have to submit it!

Ordinal Numbers Worksheet:

Q: “The crocodiles snapped at the boat.” What are the third and sixth words in this sentence?

A: Snapped, boat.

Q: Write both forms of ordinal numbers for the following: 2, Eight, 12, Twenty, Thirty-One, 85, One Hundred.

A: Second (2nd), Eighth (8th), Twelfth (12th), Twentieth (20th), Thirty-First (31st), Eighty-Fifth (85th), One Hundredth (100th).