Numbers and Counting
Uno, dos, tres, cuatro...Most everyone knows some numbers in Spanish -- especially one through ten.
You might be asking. Why do I need instruction in numbers? -- They're easy! Well in some ways they are easy but if you read on in this article you'll learn some valuable lessons about numbers you won't find in any book.
Look on the page below for this speaker symbol next to an underlined word. This indicates and audio file -- you can click on the speaker or the underlined word to hear the word spoken by a native Spanish speaker.
3 or 4 Syllables?
In Spanish books you'll see certain numbers like 23 written 2 ways. For example for 23 you'll see veinte y tres and you'll also see it written veintitres. The second way is the much more popular way of speaking Spanish. Using the second form of the number, they appear to shorten the word by at least one syllable.
Here is an example: First, listen to me, a speaker of Spanish as a second language, saying the number twenty-three(veinte-y-tres) in Spanish. Now, take a listen to our native Spanish speaker, saying the number veintitres. As you can hear, the syllables are combined to give the number a smooth flow.
You can also confirm this by listening carefully to the radio and television. You'll hear these numbers spoken very quickly with the syllables seemingly combined. So, when I want to "fit in" and sound more like a native speaker of Spanish, I say the numbers "briskly" and shorten up that extra syllable.
Practice with Spanish Numbers and Counting
Do you sometimes look for a place to practice recognizing numbers. The radio is a good place to get practice hearing and recognizing numbers. The numbers are spoken quite quickly and you'll get good exercise picking them out from the rest of the sentence. You'll often hear the time of day expressed like this: las ocho con veinte-y-tres minutos to say eight-twenty-three. This is literally 8 with 23 munutes.
Mil a Near False-Cognate
You might want to pay special attention to the word mil -- the word for 1,000 -- because it sounds a lot like a million. It may or may not be officially called a false cognate but it's sure close enough to cause a misunderstanding...
Numbers Agree in Gender Too
Spanish number endings change depending on if the noun the number refers to is masculine or feminine.
- un vaso -- one cup
- veintiun vasos -- twenty-one cups
- una pluma -- a pen
- veintiuna plumas -- twenty-one pens