Cardinal Numbers in German

Introduction

German cardinal numbers (die Kardinalzahlen) are the basic numbers. We use them to indicate how much of something there is. The tricky thing for English speakers is that German numbers seem flipped; once we reach double digits in German, we have to say the second number first.

Read on to learn how to say cardinal numbers in German, then put your knowledge to the test in the exercises.

How to write cardinal numbers in German

1 eins 11 elf 21 einundzwanzig 31 einunddreißig
2 zwei 12 zwölf 22 zweiundzwanzig 40 vierzig
3 drei 13 dreizehn 23 dreiundzwanzig 50 fünfzig
4 vier 14 vierzehn 24 vierundzwanzig 60 sechzig
5 fünf 15 fünfzehn 25 fünfundzwanzig 70 siebzig
6 sechs 16 sechzehn 26 sechsundzwanzig 80 achtzig
7 sieben 17 siebzehn 27 siebenundzwanzig 90 neunzig
8 acht 18 achtzehn 28 achtundzwanzig 100 einhundert
9 neun 19 neunzehn 29 neunundzwanzig 1000 eintausend
10 zehn 20 zwanzig 30 dreißig 1.000.000 eine Million

Double digits

We say and write the single digits before the double digits, and connect them together with und.

Example:
35 – fünfunddreißig
43 – dreiundvierzig
89 – neunundachtzig

Hundreds and thousands

Hundreds and thousands can be connected to the single and double digits with or without the word und. Between thousands and hundreds, however, we do not use und.

Example:
309 – dreihundert(und)neun
598 – fünfhundert(und)achtundneunzig
7024 – siebentausend(und)vierundzwanzig
9815 – neuntausendachthundert(und)fünfzehn
At the beginning of a word, we can shorten einhundert/eintausend to hundert/tausend.
Example:
147 – (ein)hundert(und)siebenundvierzig
1147 – (ein)tausendeinhundert(und)siebenundvierzig
To make them easier to read, numbers over 10,000 are often written with a decimal point or a space in German (not a comma!).
Example:
57.458.302
57 458 302

The numbers up to 999,999 are written as a single word when we write them out in full.

Example:
999.999 – neunhundertneunundneunzigtausendneunhundertneunundneunzig
The years up to 1999 are said and written as hundreds. Starting with 2000, however, we use normal cardinal numbers.
Example:
1999 – neunzehnhundertneunundneunzig
2011 – zweitausend(und)elf

Millions

Starting with the number 2,000,000, we use the plural. Note that Million is always written as a separate word.

Example:
1.500.000 – eine Million fünfhunderttausend
2.000.000 – zwei Millionen
47.850.203 – siebenundvierzig Millionen achthundertfünfzigtausendzweihundert(und)drei

Exceptions with 1, 101, 1001 etc.

The number one changes in German depending on how we use it:

  • To write it as a numeral without a noun, we use eins.
    Examples:
    Eins und eins ist zwei.One and one is two.
    Wir treffen uns halb eins am Bahnhof.We are meeting at the train station at half past twelve.
    The numeral can also be used as a noun and is written with a capital letter.
    Examples:
    Ich habe in Deutsch eine Eins bekommen.I got a one (= grade A) in German.
    Die Eins mag ich nicht, weil ich oft nicht weiß, welche Form man verwenden muss.I don’t like the number one because I often don’t know which form to use.
  • When talking about the time, we can use either ein Uhr or eins.
    Examples:
    Wir treffen uns um ein Uhr am Bahnhof.We are meeting at the train station at one o’clock.
    Wir treffen uns um eins am Bahnhof.We are meeting at one at the train station.
  • Before nouns, we use ein… in the inflected form.
    Examples:
    Das ist ein Hund (m)/ein Meerschweinchen (n)/eine Katze (f).That is a dog/a guinea pig/a cat.

    nominative

    Ich habe einen Hund (m)/ein Meerschweinchen (n)/eine Katze (f).I’ve got a dog/a guinea pig/a cat.

    accusative

    Hast du Angst vor einem Hund (m)/einem Meerschweinchen (n)/einer Katze (f)?Are you afraid of a dog/a guinea pig/a cat.

    dative

    Das ist das Haar eines Hundes (m)/eines Meerschweinchens (n)/einer Katze (f).That is the hair of a dog/a guinea pig/a cat.

    genitive

When we use the numerals 101, 1001, etc. without a noun, we use eins.

Example:
einhundert(und)eins, eintausend(und)einsone hundred and one, one thousand and one

If 101, 1001, etc. are placed before a noun, we have three possibilities:

ein… (inflected) + singular noun ein + plural noun eins + plural noun
Ich habe eintausend(und)einen
Freund bei Facebook.I have one thousand and one friends on facebook.
Ich habe eintausend(und)ein
Freunde bei Facebook.I have one thousand and one friends on facebook.
Ich habe eintausend(und)eins
Freunde bei Facebook.I have one thousand and one friends on facebook.