In a previous article, we discussed asking for and understanding questions related to giving directions in Arabic. Unlike cardinal numbers which are for counting, ordinal numbers in Arabic are for ordering things in a first-second-third kind of format. They’re pretty useful when giving directions. This is especially in a busy city like Amman, Jordan, where they have numbered circles and you want to tell the taxi driver in Arabic where you want to go. For example, you would tell the driver to “خذ الثانية مباشرة بعد الدوار الثامن. إنه المبنى الثالث على اليسار”. “khuTH athaaniyah mubaasharatan baʻd adduwaar athaamin. ʼinahu almabnaa athaalith ʼalaa alyasaar”. (“Take the second right after the Eighth Circle. It’s the third building on the left”).

Ordinal numbers in Arabic are gender-defined. Therefore, you need to be familiar with both the masculine and feminine ordinal forms.

So, we’ve created this table for you:

EnglishOrdinal (Masculine)TransliterationOrdinal (Feminine)Transliteration
First in Arabicأولʼawwalأولىʼoolaa
Second in Arabicثانيthaaneeثانيةthaaniyah
Third in Arabicثالثthaalithثالثةthaalithah
Fourth in Arabicرابعraabiʻرابعةraabiʻah
Fifth in Arabicخامسkhaamisخامسةkhaamisah
Sixth in Arabicسادسsaadisسادسةsaadisah
Seventh in Arabicسابعsaabiʻسابعةsaabiʻah
Eighth in Arabicثامنthaaminثامنةthaaminah
Ninth in Arabicتاسعtaasiʻتاسعةtaasiʻah
Tenth in Arabicعاشرʻaashirعاشرةʻaashirah
Eleventh in Arabicحادي عشرHaadee ʻasharحادية عشرHaadiyah ʻashr
Twelfth in Arabicثاني عشرthaanee ʻasharثانية عشرthaaniyah ʻashr
Thirteenth in Arabicثالث عشرthaalith ʻasharثالثة عشرthaalithah ʻashr
Fourteenth in Arabicرابع عشرraabiʻ ʻasharرابعة عشرraabiʻah ʻashr
Fifteenth in Arabicخامس عشرkhaamis ʻasharخامسة عشرkhaamisah ʻashr

Examples of feminine and masculine ordinal numbers

Note the differences in the use of the masculine and feminine in Arabic. For example, if you want to tell a friend that your house is “the fifth house,” you say البيت الخامس albayt alkhaamis. In this example, we use the masculine ordinal form khaamis because bayt is a masculine noun subject.

However, in Arabic grammar, because “bus” is feminine, in the sentence عليك أن تأخذ الحافلة الخامسة ʻalayka ʼan taʼkhuTH alHaafilah alkhaamisah (You have to take the fifth bus.), we use the feminine alkhamisa.

Of course, ordinal numbers aren’t used only in giving directions, but they are also used in other things like birth order, the number of times you’ve said something, and other things which are talked about in order.

Here are some examples:

أنا الطفل البكر في عائلتي – ʼana aTifl albikr fee ʻaaʼilatee – I’m the firstborn child in my family

هذه هي المرة الثانية التي تتحدث فيها معي بهذه الطريقة – haTHihi hiya almarah athaaniyah altee tataHadathu feehaa maʻee bihaTHihi aTareeqati – This is the second time you’ve talked to me in this manner.

من أجل جعل زبدة الفول السوداني وساندويش الهلام ، عليك التأكد من أن لديك زبدة الفول السوداني أولاً – min ʼajl jaʻil zubdat alfool assoodaanee wa saandwish alhulaam, ʻalayka attaʼkud min ʼan ladayka zubdat alfool assoodaanee ʼawlan – In order to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you have to make sure you have peanut butter first

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