Ordinal Numbers in Arabic

numbers in Arabic

In a previous article, we discussed asking for and understanding questions related to giving directions in Arabic. Unlike cardinal numbers which are mostly used for counting, ordinal numbers are used to order things in a first-second-third kind of format and come in pretty handy when giving directions, 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.”). 


Because ordinal numbers in Arabic are gender-defined and you need to be familiar with both the masculine and feminine ordinal forms, we’ve created this table for you:

English Ordinal (Masculine) Transliteration Ordinal (Feminine) Transliteration
first (أول) ʼawwal (أولى) ʼoolaa
second (ثاني) thaanee (ثانية) thaaniyah
third (ثالث) thaalith (ثالثة) thaalithah
fourth (رابع) raabiʻ (رابعة) raabiʻah
fifth (خامس) khaamis (خامسة) khaamisah
sixth (سادس) saadis (سادسة) saadisah
seventh (سابع) saabiʻ (سابعة) saabiʻah
eighth (ثامن) thaamin (ثامنة) thaaminah
ninth (تاسع) taasiʻ (تاسعة) taasiʻah
tenth (عاشر) ʻaashir (عاشرة) ʻaashirah
eleventh (حادي عشر) Haadee ʻashar (حادية عشر) Haadiyah ʻashr
twelfth (ثاني عشر) thaanee ʻashar (ثانية عشر) thaaniyah ʻashr
thirteenth (ثالث عشر) thaalith ʻashar (ثالثة عشر) thaalithah ʻashr
fourteenth (رابع عشر) raabiʻ ʻashar (رابعة عشر) raabiʻah ʻashr
fifteenth (خامس عشر) khaamis ʻashar (خامسة عشر) khaamisah ʻashr


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.)

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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