What are German numbers?
Modern German numbers are Indo-Arabic the same as used in English. In the 900s the Indo-Arabic system came to Europe and was adopted in most countries including Germany. Learning German numbers is similar to learning numbers in any language.
Differences between German and English numbers
There are a couple of differences between German and English numbers. The first thing you may notice is the use of a period (.) to separate thousands instead of a comma (,) and a comma instead of a period to denote decimals. Just the opposite as done in English.
- English: 1,000,000
- German: 1.000.000
- English: 3.25
- German: 3,25
So, if something cost four-thousand two hundred Euros and eighty cents it looks like this:
The term billion is another difference. German uses the word ‘billion’ but in German, it means trillion. To say billion German’s say ‘milliarde’. Other European languages such as Italian use similar wording.
How to learn German numbers
Foundation numbers, the ones, 1 – 9
The numbers 1 – 9, the ones place, are the foundation for all other numbers in German. So, this what you must learn first.
Make sure you DON’T learn these numbers in consecutive order such as 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. I can’t stress this enough. If you are using a language learning app or program which has you learning numbers in consecutive order – don’t do it.
Learning the numbers in consecutive order is learning to count which makes it harder later to just recall and say a number that is out of order. Most of the time we use numbers out of order, asking a price, inputting a phone number, writing down an address, and so on and you want to be able to recall any number quickly without having to count your way through all the other numbers first.
So, learn the numbers 1 – 9 randomly any pattern but not in order.
An easy way to do this is to look around for numbers as you go about your day. When you see a number say it in German. It’s easy to do, you can do it often, and you will learn the numbers quickly.
Here are the numbers 1 – 9
- 1 Ein
- 2 Zwei
- 3 Drei
- 4 Vier
- 5 Fünf
- 6 Sechs
- 7 Sieben
- 8 Acht
- 9 Neun
Ten through nineteen
The numbers ten through nineteen are divided into two groups, 10, 11, 12 and 13 -19. Luckily the larger group, 13 – 19, are the easiest to learn. This is similar to most languages, even French, know for its difficult number system.
Ten, eleven, and twelve don’t follow a pattern.
- 10 Zehn
- 11 Elf
- 12 Zwölf
Thirteen through nineteen follow a consistent pattern typical of many languages. To construct these numbers simply say the ones place (the foundation numbers) in front of the number ten.
- 13 is: 3 (drei) 10 (zehn) – dreizehn.
- 14 is: 4 (vier) 10 (zehn) – vierzehn.
This pattern will get you up to 19.
- 13 dreizehn
- 14 vierzehn
- 15 fünfzehn
- 16 sechzehn
- 17 siebzehn
- 18 achtzehn
- 19 neunzehn
Twenty through ninety-nine
This large set of numbers also follows a consistent pattern, with two minor spelling changes for 20 and 30. But it’s still easy to learn.
The pattern is to use the first four letters of the foundation numbers (1 – 9) and attache “zig” at the end of it. As mentioned, the two exceptions to this are 20 and 30 zwanzig, and dreiiβig.
- 20 zwanzig
- 30 dreiiβig
- 40 vierzig
- 50 fünfzig
- 60 sechzig
- 70 siebzig
- 80 achtzig
- 90 neunzig
Then all that is needed is to put in ‘and’ and then insert the correct foundation number (1 – 9). For example
And so on.
Here are a couple of more examples
Just remember that in German say the ones place, the foundation numbers (1 – 9) first then the tens place. It’s the opposite of English. It may seem awkward at first but you will quickly master it. I think having the ‘and’ (und) in the number helps to keep the order straight.
Hundreds, thousands, and millions
You probably won’t need to use numbers past the millions place and the numbers for the hundreds, thousands, and millions are simple to master.
Hundred is in German is ‘hundret’ almost the same as English. And just as it is in English, simply place the number of hundreds in front of ‘hundret. It looks like this;
Here is one-hundred through nine-hundred
The word for thousand in German is ‘tausend’, also similar to English. The thousands follow the same pattern as the hundreds
And so on.
If you do need to say numbers in the millions it’s the same pattern. The word for million in German is ‘million’. Again so easy. The plural for million in German is ‘millionen’ and is needed from two-million onward. Here are some examples,
Now you can say, for example, 9,876,543:
And yes it’s written as one word.
Although we don’t often use the word for zero much when saying numbers you should know it. It’s ‘null’ in German.
6 steps to learn German numbers
- Do not learn the numbers in consecutive order
- Learn the foundation numbers (1 – 9) first
- Learn the 10, 11, 12
- Learn the pattern for 13 – 19
- Learn the pattern for numbers 20 – 99
- Learn the words for hundred, thousand, and million