Italian Numbers: How To Count In Italian

We're coving the 10 most important things to know to get by in Italian. Last week, we looked at Italian greetings, at the common courtesies, and asking questions. This week, we started with things you will need, and now we're going to talk about numbers.

5. Numbers

Strictly regarding the number of words to learn here, there are more than there have been for the first four parts of this series. However, these are all just bare words, not phrases, so it's not that much more. And numbers are usually pretty easy to learn.

First, the numbers from 0-16 are:

zero : zero

uno : one

due : two

tre : three

quattro : four

cinque : five

sei : six

sette : seven

otto : eight

nove : nine

dieci : ten

undici : eleven

dodici : twelve

tredici : thirteen

quattordici : fourteen

quindici : fifteen

sedici : sixteen

dicissette : seventeen

diciotto : eighteen

diciannove : nineteen

All the rest of the numbers from 20 to 99 are formed by adding the numbers 1-9 to the stem for each mulitple of 10:

venti : twenty

trenta : thirty

quaranta : fourty

cinquanta : fifty

sessanta : sixty

settanta : seventy

ottanta : eighty

novanta : ninety

Therefore, fourty-eight is quarantotto, and thirty-three is trentatré. (Note that in these compound words, the stress must fall properly on the word for the ones digit, which is why there is an accent mark on the final e in trentatré.)

Numbers higher than 99 aren't as important, but they're easy to form.

cento : one-hundred

duecento : two-hundred

trecento : three-hundred

mille : one-thousand

duemila : two-thousand

tremila : three-thousand

un milione : a million

Italian also has a few interesting words of approximation:

decina : about ten

decine : tens (similar to dozens)

centinaio : about a hundred

centinaia : hundreds

migliaio : about a thousand

migliaia : thousands

This also makes it possible to say something like una decina di migliaia (about ten thousand) and centinaia di migliaia (hundreds of thousands).

And then there are always some quantities that can't be expressed numerically...

ogni : each

tutto : all / everything

qualsiasi : any

nulla : nothing

niente : nothing

nessuno : no one

quarto : quarter

mezzo : half

(Note: I did not include qualunque here, which also means any but not in a quantitative sense.)

Finally, let's have a look at some words that relate to how numbers are used.

litro : liter

millilitro : milliliter

grammo : gram

chilogrammo : kilogram

metro : meter

chilometro : kilometer

isolato : block

euro : euro

dollaro : dollar

sterlina : pound sterling

Putting it together

If you're following the 10 things list and just learning enough to get by in Italian, you probably don't need to master everything on this page. The odds are you're going to be hearning and wanting to understand numbers, but you probably won't be saying them very often. If you can confidently learn the numbers 0-9 you can give out or take down a phone number. Everything else is easy.

So at this point, you should know how to ask how far something is, or how much something costs, and now you should be able to understand the answer. You should also know how to understand time, because in Italian, you just add the definite article to the number of the hour: è l'una (it's one o'clock), or sono le sette e quaranta (it's 7:40).

Next, we'll learn directions.


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