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”:
Nominative case – первый (pervyi)
Genitive case – первого (pervogo)
Dative case – первому (pervomy)
Accusative case – первого (pervogo)
Instrumental case – первым (pervym)
Prepositional case – первом (pervom)
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.