The numbers are one of the first things that you learn in English as they form part of a vital basic vocabulary that you need for daily life.
Similarly, numbers are also one of the first things that you should learn when learning Italian because they are such a foundational part of daily language, especially the numbers from one to ten.
Knowing your numbers in Italian is very useful and they are also very easy to learn since they are quite similar to English anyway.
However, although it can be quite simple to learn the numbers from one to ten in Italian, it can be trickier when using bigger numbers or certain other number-related words.
Whether you want to order multiple pizzas when in Italy or impress your Italian friends with your number knowledge, knowing Italian numbers is certainly a vital language skill that will come in handy often.
This guide will break down all you need to know about counting in Italian and go over some other important Italian number-related words ensuring that you confidently know your way around the numbers in Italian.
Italian Numbers: The Basics
First things first, let’s go over the basic numbers from one to ten in Italian.
All it takes is a little practice to master these simple numbers. You will be surprised how useful they are when speaking Italian and you will instantly level up your daily Italian conversations.
1 – uno – one
2 – due – two
3 – tre – three
4 – quattro – four
5 – cinque – five
6 – sei – six
7 – sette – seven
8 – otto – eight
9 – nove – nine
10 – dieci – ten
Beyond “dieci” it is good to know your multiples of ten since they are both common and useful numbers to know and you will also be able to combine them with what you have already learnt above to create more complex numbers.
20 – venti – twenty
30 – trenta – thirty
40 – quaranta – forty
50 – cinquanta – fifty
60 – sessanta – sixty
70 – settanta – seventy
80 – ottanta – eighty
90 – novanta – ninety
The bigger numbers are certainly worth remembering as they also form the basis of more complex numbers and will help you with saying dates in Italian.
100 – cento – one hundred (the form stays the same even if it’s several hundred, e.g. quattrocento is four hundred)
1,000 – mille – one thousand (the form changes to mila for several thousand, e.g. quattromila is four thousand)
1,000,000 – milione – one million (the form changes to milioni if several million, e.g. due milioni is two million)
1,000,000,000 – miliardo – one billion (the form changes to miliardi if several billion, e.g. settanta miliardi is seventy billion)
In regards to dates, the rules on how to say the numbers often change depending on what you are referencing.
For example, if you want to reference a century like 1900 you would say “novecento” which is similar to how in English you would say “nineteen hundred” instead of “one thousand nine hundred”, although weirdly enough in Italian they actually use the word for “nine hundred” to talk about this period of time.
However, if you are talking about a specific date like for example 1980 you would say the full number as normal starting with the biggest number and end with the smallest. So 1980 would be “millenovecentoottanta” all written as one word, which means “one thousand nine hundred and eighty.
Special Cases With Italian Numbers
The only numbers we have yet to cover are the double-digit numbers after ten and the ones in between the multiples of ten.
Firstly, unlike in English where the numbers eleven and twelve don’t follow the pattern of the other teens, in Italian they do.
From eleven to sixteen, the numbers end in “dici”, which means “ten”, so you would say “undici” meaning “one-ten” and “dodici” meaning “two-ten”.
This pattern continues with “tredici”, “quattordici”, “quindici” and “sedici”.
However, between seventeen and twenty the order changes and the numbers start with “dici” instead so seventeen is “diciassette” meaning ‘ten-seven” and this is followed by “diciotto” and “diciannove”.
11 – undici – eleven
12 – dodici – twelve
13 – tredici – thirteen
14 – quattordici – fourteen
15 – quindici – fifteen
16 – sedici – sixteen
17 – diciassette – seventeen
18 – diciotto – eighteen
19 – diciannove – nineteen
This system of putting the bigger number first is followed for all subsequent double digit numbers, for example, twenty-two is “ventidue”, thirty-seven is “trentasette” and seventy four is “settantaquattro”.
The only exception to this rule is when dealing with numbers that end one or eight, “uno” or “otto”, where the vowel ending of the larger number gets dropped.
So when you want to say 21, the “i” from “venti” is dropped, turning venti-uno into “ventuno” and venti-otto into “ventotto”.
This pattern follows throughout the other multiples of ten for example, “ trentuno” (31) “trentotto” (38), “quarantuno” (41) and “cinquantotto” (58).
When creating a number with a three on the end the word “tre” has an accent on the end and becomes “tré” so 33 and 43 would be “trentatré” and “quarantatré” respectively.
Kinds Of Italian Numbers
When learning numbers it is good to cover all bases and study all three categories of numbers, cardinal numbers, nominal numbers and ordinal numbers, or “numeri cardinali”, “nominali”, and “ordinali” in Italian.
The cardinal numbers or “cardinali”, are the basic numbers that are used to denote quantity.
These numbers are the ones we have gone through above and you would use them to number things, for example when saying “one-hundred ducks” and “two horses” which in Italian would be “cento anatre” and “due cavalli”.
Cardinal numbers will be most useful to you in Italian when ordering drinks and food.
Nominal numbers are also pretty straightforward as they are simply a number in its number form and are not used to indicate the quantity of something or when counting.
You will usually see nominal numbers as a collection of numbers together such as phone numbers, house numbers and passport numbers.
These numbers are the same as cardinal numbers but their purpose is simply different.
You would never actually write out nominal numbers in the written form like you might for cardinal numbers, for example, it would be strange to write out your phone number using the words for the numbers instead of simply using the numbers themselves.
Ordinal numbers are numbers used when putting things in order for example “first” and “second”.
The ordinal words are obviously different to the written forms of cardinal and nominal numbers and are even modified in their number form.
Therefore, when learning Italian it is a good idea to learn your ordinal numbers so you can plan your day with others and organize what you will do “primo” (first).
Below we have listed the first ten ordinal numbers in Italian:
- primo – first
- secondo – second
- terzo – third
- quarto – fourth
- quinto – fifth
- sesto – sixth
- settimo -seventh
- ottavo – eight
- nono – ninth
- decimo – tenth
Ordinal number are also useful to learn in Italian when you need to ask for a fraction of something for example when asking for a “third of a pizza” or “un terzo di una pizza”
Interestingly if you wanted to order offal at a butchers shop in Rome, a common phrase to use is “quinto quarto” which directly translates to “fifth quarter”.
Italian Maths Terms
Since maths and numbers go hand in hand, it is useful to learn some Italian “mathematica” words so you know you are not confused if Italians ask you to do maths.
To ask someone the result of a maths equation you would say “quanto fa?” which literally means “how much does it make?”
“Quanto fa?” is a useful term when asking a shopkeep what the total cost is.
Other useful maths terms in Italian are “uguale” which means “equal”.
Below we have broken down the Italian words for the four main maths terms, adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.
- Plus = più
- Sum = “somma”
- “Quanto fa dieci più cinque?” = how much is ten plus five?
- Minus = meno (literally “less”)
- Difference = differenza or resto
- “Cento meno dieci uguale novanta” = one hundred minus ten equals ninety
- Multiply = per
- Product = prodotto
- “Dieci per dieci uguale cento” = ten times ten equals one hundred
- Divided by = diviso
- Quotient = quoto or quoziente
- “Cento diviso due uguale cinquanta” = one hundred divided by two equals fifty
- Percent = percento
- “Il quaranta percento della popolazione” = forty per cent of the population
Knowing how to give dimensions of something in Italian won’t really come in handy every day but if you ever need to buy a specific sized frame for a piece of art or a sofa that will fit in your flat then knowing dimensions is vital.
Luckily it is pretty simple to give dimensions, you simply say the two numbers separated with a “per” which in this case signifies “x” or “by” in a similar way to English.
- “Una cornice da venti per ottanta centimetri” = A twenty by eighty centimetre frame
Hopefully you now realize that learning the numbers in Italian is pretty simple and they follow simple patterns that are easy to follow.
Once you have memorized the Italian numbers and their associated words you will be able to have a more diverse conversation with others and have no trouble when ordering for multiple people when in an Italian bar or restaurant.
The best way to practice your numbers is to immerse yourself in the language and pick up when and how they are used in different contexts so you can easily act like a natural in Italian.
So…uno, due, tre! Get practicing your Italian numbers now!