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How to Use Ordinal Numbers in Russian

Knowing ordinal numbers is Russian is important for everything from being on time for appointments to telling the time. For example, when you go to the cinema, you need to know exactly where your seat is located. Was it in the eighth or seventh row? Sometimes it’s hard to remember—and it’s even harder to say it correctly in Russian. To keep you from getting lost in the cinema or from missing that crucial appointment, this post is all about ordinal numbers.

Learn Russian with a native speaker to learn how to use ordinal and cardinal numbers in Russian and achieve fast and great results.

Russian Ordinal Numbers: The Basics

The first thing you need to know is that ordinal numbers are used to describe position or order.

  • На пятом этаже (na pyatom etazhe) – on the fifth floor

Their endings change depending on the gender, number, and case of the nouns they refer to.

Forms of Russian Ordinal Numbers According to Gender

Take a look at the first ten ordinal numbers in Russian:

  • первый (pervyi) – first

  • второй (vtoroi) – second

  • третий (tretii) – third

  • четвертый (chetvyortyi) – fourth

  • пятый (pyatyi) – fifth

  • шестой (shestoi) – sixth

  • седьмой (sed’moi) – seventh

  • восьмой (vos’moi) – eighth

  • девятый (devyatyi) – ninth

  • десятый (desyatyi) – tenth

This is the initial form of ordinal numbers that is given in dictionaries, and it is used with singular masculine nouns.

For feminine nouns, we change the ending to “–ая” (–aya), as shown in the examples below:

  • первая (pervaya) – first

  • вторая (vtoraya) – second

  • третья (tret’ya) – third

For neutral nouns, we use the ending “–ое” (–oe):

  • первое (pervoe) – first

  • второе (vtoroe) – second

  • третье (tret’e) – third

Forms of Russian Ordinal Numbers According to Number

To form the plural, we change the original ending to “–ые” (–ye):

  • Четвертые (chetvyortye) – fourths

  • пятые (pyatye) – fifths

  • шестые (shestye) – sixths

Forms of Russian Ordinal Numbers according to Case

Additionally, the endings of ordinal numbers change according to their case. Russian has six grammatical cases that show the function of nouns in phrases and sentences.

The examples below show the six forms of the word “first”:

If we take another ordinal number, the endings will be the same. You just need to change the ending of the initial form into the ending of the case you need. Thus, “второй” (vtoroi) turns into “второго” (vtorogo) in the genitive case, or “второму” (vtoromu) in the dative case.

Russian Ordinal Numbers from Eleventh to Hundredth

The list below provides ordinal numbers eleventh through twentieth:

  • одиннадцатый (odinnatsatyi) – eleventh

  • двенадцатый (dvenatsatyi) – twelfth

  • тринадцатый (trinatsatyi) – thirteenth

  • четырнадцатый (chetyrnatsatyi) – fourteenth

  • пятнадцатый (pyatnatsatyi) – fifteenth

  • шестнадцатый (shestnatsatyi) – sixteenth

  • семнадцатый (semnatsatyi) – seventeenth

  • восемнадцатый (vosemnatsatyi) – eighteenth

  • девятнадцатый (devyatnatsatyi) – nineteenth

  • двадцатый (dvatsatyi) – twentieth

Ordinals above twentieth are formed by creating compounds.

Compound Russian Ordinal Numbers

Ordinals above twentieth are formed exactly like they are in English: by adding the ordinal numbers first to ninth to the cardinal numbers at intervals of ten (that is, twenty, thirty, forty, and so on). For example, “twenty-first” in Russian is formed by adding “first” (первый - pervyi) to “twenty” (двадцать): “двадцать первый” (dvatsat’ pervyi).

Here are some more examples:

  • двадцать второй (dvatsat’ vtoroi) – twenty-second

  • тридцать восьмой (tritsat’ vos’moi) – thirty-eighth

  • пятьдесят шестой (pyat’desyat shestoi) – fifty-sixth

  • семьдесят седьмой (sem’desyat sed’moi) – seventy-seventh

  • девяносто пятый (devyanosto pyatyi) – ninety-fifth

  • сто третий (sto tretii) – one hundred and third

Remember that the last component should be an ordinal number:

  • сто сорок восьмой (sto sorok vos’moi) – one hundred and eighth

  • тысяча девятьсот сорок первый (tysyacha devyat’sot sorok pervyi) – one thousand nine hundred and forty-first

Learn More about Numbers in Russian

While some of these ordinal numbers are rarely used in everyday conversations, try to remember the ones you think might be useful. An even better strategy is to learn Russian with a tutor to ensure that you understand the principles of forming ordinals and using them in various contexts.

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