A guide to confident counting in French

Having a few French numbers at your fingertips (at least the French numbers 1-20) is a positive start on your French grammar journey. Then, with French numbers from 1 to 100, you're ready to swap telephone numbers with friends or know how much you're spending on holiday souvenirs. As with many French grammar rules, the French numbers 1 – 100 can appear a little tricky - some even involve some maths! But, with a little perseverance and the support of Babbel French grammar online you'll soon be confidently using the French numbers from 1 to 20 (and more).

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Getting from one to 69

Counting in French is not quite as easy as 1-2-3 but get a grip on the French numbers 1 to 20 and you're on your way. For the 1-10 French numbers and on up to 16 you have just one word to memorise:

  • un

  • deux

  • trois

  • quatre

  • cinq

  • six

  • sept

  • huit

  • neuf

  • dix

  • onze

  • douze

  • treize

  • quatorze

  • quinze

  • seize

At 17, and for the rest of the French numbers 1 to 20, you have to start using the all-important hyphen - a vital element in many French numbers. 17 is, of course, 10 + 7 so the French simply say dix-sept. Continue with dix-huit and dix-neuf until you get to vingt or 20. Once confident with the 1-20 French numbers, progress to the 1-30 French numbers (vingt-et-un, vingt-deux and so on until 30 (trente). Got it? Learn quarante (40), cinquante (50) and soixante (60) and you'll be counting as confidently as a French grammar expert. For real mastery of the 1-20 French numbers and beyond download the Babbel app and explore them through listening, speaking, reading and writing.

How do you count using French numbers after 20?

  • vingt (20)

  • trente (30)

  • quarante (40)

  • cinquante (50)

  • soixante (60)

  • soixante-dix (70) = 60 + 10

  • quatre-vingts (80) = 4 x 20

  • quatre-vingt-dix (90) = 4 x 20 + 10

  • cent (100)

  • mille (1000)

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Where the maths comes in

Remember we said some maths was involved when learning the French numbers 1 to 100? Well, it starts at 70. 70 is actually soixante-dix, 60 + 10. 71 is soixante-et-onze and when you know that 72 is soixante-douze, it's fairly easy to get to 76 (soixante-seize) and then we have:

  • soixante-dix-sept - 77

  • soixante-dix-huit - 78

  • soixante-dix-neuf - 79

When we reach 80, however, we start to swap addition for multiplication. 80 is four times twenty or quatre-vingts (four twenties). Then just repeat the pattern for the sixties and seventies (minus the 'et') and you'll soon have the French numbers 1-100 cracked. For example, 83 is quatre-vingt-trois and 97 is quatre-vingt-dix-sept. A little confused? Don't be. Once you start following your Babbel course material, you'll get plenty of chance to practise and understand the French numbers 1 to 100.

Importance of Communication Graphic

Use numbers in French to learn them

The most important element of learning vocabulary in any new language is not over-worrying about grammar rules or how to spell the words. It's about remembering and using them. Here are a few great tips for developing your confidence with numbers in French:

  • Leap in and use them whenever you're speaking French whether it's in a class or on holiday

  • Count in French whenever you can – whether it's balancing your budget, meditative breathing or copying down a new telephone number

  • Download some French podcasts from Babbel and listen out for numbers

  • Keep practising your French grammar rules including how to use numbers with Babbel

Learning the Babbel app way

Learning French grammar online is so much flexible and personalised than the traditional route of class-based lessons, even more so when you download the Babbel app. With the app, your lessons and progress are seamlessly synced across all of your devices allowing you to study when and where you like and totally at your own pace. The app lets you tune into native French speakers and practise conversations around useful topics as well as review and practise past lessons as often as you wish.