How to Count in French – Numbers from 0 to 99

Do you know how to count in French? You may probably have heard that French numbers are tricky. Well, there is some truth in that.

Compared to English numbers, French numbers follow some logic that many of us quite don’t understand. They’re not as straightforward and even require we do some math. We will get into that later.

Adding to the confusion, we have to deal with the fact that numbers can vary a little between French-speaking countries. As if the numbers weren’t difficult enough, we can’t forget their pronunciation. They say in French you only pronounce half of the written word lol.

French numbers are tricky, but they’re not impossible to learn. Are you ready? Let’s jump right in!

 

Counting from 0 to 10

Hopscotch gameWhen we learn a new language, the first two things we always learn first are the alphabet and numbers. They’re the foundation for any new language learner.

Regarding numbers, the ones from 0 to 10 are not that complicated. If anything, people struggle with pronunciation, but other than that, they’re easy to learn. You can find them below.

0 – zéro

1 – un

2 – deux

3 – trois

4 – quatre

5 – cinq

6 – six

7 – sept

8 – huit

9 – neuf

10 – dix

Simple, right? Let’s continue.

Counting from 11 to 20

English numbers just add -teen at the end, except for eleven and twelve. Well, French teens are different. They rebel against such a rule.

Let’s take a look at them below.

11 – onze

12 – douze

13 – treize

14 – quatorze

15 – quinze

16 – seize

17 – dix-sept

18 – dix-huit

19 – dix-neuf

20 – vingt

As you can see, the only numbers that follow a similar pattern are the numbers between 17 and 19. They all use dix + another number (10 + 7, 10 + 8, 10 + 9). That makes sense.

Now, did you notice that some numbers are hyphenated? In 1990, the Académie française established this hyphenation rule for some compound numbers.

 

Counting from 21 to 69

Lots of numbers

The good news is these numbers follow a more uniform pattern as compared to the numbers preceding them. Let’s take a look.

21 – vingt et un

22 – vingt-deux

23 – vingt-trois

24 – vingt-quatre

25 – vingt-cinq

26 – vingt-six

27 – vingt-sept

28 – vingt-huit

29 – vingt-neuf

Did you notice that all numbers are hyphenated except for 21? In this case, we use et (and) instead of a hyphen. The same rule applies to 31, 41, 51, and 61. None of them is hyphenated.

What about the rest? 

30 – trente

40 – quarante

50 – cinquante

60 – soixante

Let’s do a little exercise. With the information you just learned, how do you say 31? What about 43? 57? 68? You can see the answers at the bottom of this post.*

 

Counting from 70 to 79

Now, this is where things get a little bit more complicated. We saw some consistency between 21 and 69, but things change dramatically moving past 69. 

70 – soixante-dix

71 – soixante et onze

72 – soixante-douze

73 – soixante-treize 

74 – soixante-quatorze

75 – soixante-quinze

76 – soixante-seize

77 – soixante-dix-sept

78 – soixante-dix-huit

79 – soixante-dix-neuf

This is where many French learners get confused. These numbers don’t follow the pattern we saw previously. Instead, you have to do some math.

For starters, take a look at 70. Did you notice it’s a combination of 60 and 10? The same applies to the numbers following 70. Instead of adding 1, 2, or 3, we add 11, 12, 13, etc. to the base number.

 

Counting from 80 to 89

AbacusIf you didn’t think things could get more complicated, I’m sorry to burst your bubble. The French number system is peculiar in this respect. Let me explain.

If 79 is soixante-dix-neuf, we could assume 80 is soixante-vingt, right? Wrong!

We have to do more math. 80 is quatre-vingts (four times twenty or 4×20). English had a similar equivalent: fourscore. It fell out of use in English, but the French preserved it.

Let’s take a look at the rest of the numbers.

80 – quatre-vingts

81 – quatre-vingt-un

82 – quatre-vingt-deux

83 – quatre-vingt-trois

84 – quatre-vingt-quatre

85 – quatre-vingt-cinq

86 – quatre-vingt-six

87 – quatre-vingt-sept

88 – quatre-vingt-huit

89 – quatre-vingt-neuf

Did you notice 80 has the plural form of 20? It’s not pronounced, but we don’t use the singular form here. For the rest, drop the s.

Also, did you notice we don’t use et for 81? Instead, we just hyphen it as we do with other compound numbers.

 

Counting from 90 to 99

With so many exceptions, you may now be wondering what these numbers are like. I don’t blame you.

We still have to do some math, but the good news is numbers past 89 don’t change dramatically. In fact, they are somewhat consistent with their predecessors. Let’s take a look.

90 – quatre-vingt-dix

91 – quatre-vingt-onze

92 – quatre-vingt-douze

93 – quatre-vingt-treize

94 – quatre-vingt-quatorze

95 – quatre-vingt-quinze

96 – quatre-vingt-seize

97 – quatre-vingt-dix-sept

98 – quatre-vingt-dix-huit

99 – quatre-vingt-dix-neuf

As you can see, the numbers here start adding 11, 12, 13, etc. The base number is 80 (4×20), and then we add another number to it. Based on this, 90 is 4×20+10, 91 is 4×20+11, 92 is 4×20+12, and so on.

As a recap, you can watch the video below to practice what you just learned.

Numbers in Other French-Speaking Countries

Belgian flag

Although French is spoken in 29 countries, there are some differences when it comes to their number system. In countries like Belgium, Switzerland, and Luxembourg, they count numbers differently. Take a look below.

70 – septante

71 – septante et un

72 – septante-deux

73 – septante-trois

74 – septante-quatre

75 – septante-cinq

76 – septante-six

77 – septante-sept

78 – septante-huit

79 – septante-neuf

 

80 – huitante

81 – hutante et un

82 – huitante-deux

For 80, they also use octante in some regions.

90 – nonante

91 – nonante et un

92 – nonante-deux

Numbers in those countries are much simpler, right? Just be advised that most French speakers use the first form. They understand if you use the second way, but I recommend learning numbers the way they say them in France.

 

Conclusion

Wow! You learned a lot today. Yes, numbers in French are a little complicated and require practice, but numbers beyond 99 are easier. If you learn the numbers from 0 to 99, especially 70 to 99, the rest will be a piece of cake.

The only recommendation I can give you is practice, practice, practice! Remember practice makes perfect. If you practice diligently, you will learn the French numbers in no time.

That’s it for today. I hope you liked this post. If you did, please don’t forget to like and share it. Au revoir!

* 31 is trente et un, 43 is quarante-trois, 57 is cinquante-sept, and 68 is soixante-huit.

How to Count in French
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8 thoughts on “How to Count in French – Numbers from 0 to 99”

  1. Trying to read these numbers in French I think I might just break my tongue. I wonder if I’ll ever get to have that accent and way of saying words in French that the French have. 

    But still I am in love with this language I find it to be one of the most interesting and likely enjoyable languages to speak. For now I guess I’ll be satisfied with vingt-deux because that is my date of birth.

    Reply
    • Hey, Donny,

      The French pronunciation is hard for many, especially when it involves sounds that don’t exist in their native languages. Speaking without an accent is like a dream come true, but it requires hard work. I’ll talk about that subject soon.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
  2. That was quite the French lesson! I speak some Spanish, so it was fun to see the similarities with some of the number words, though the pronunciations are very different! I did find it interesting that as the numbers get higher, they get a little more complicated and even require you to do some math. Learning and mastering numbers in French will keep you on your toes. 

    I agree, practice is crucial when learning anything new, particularly a new language! Thank you for explaining the break down of each set of numbers. I wouldn’t have been able to figure out each part on my own!  

    Are there any specific books/learning tools you would recommend to someone wanting to learn more of the French language?

    Reply
    • Hi, Heidi,

      Yes, there are some similarities between French and Spanish since they’re both Romance languages. However, as you mentioned, numbers in French are more complicated, especially the ones between 70 and 99.

      Answering your question, there is a good book on Amazon called Easy French. It’s very easy to follow. Additionally, you can use other online tools to learn and practice. Many of them are free! You can check out this post.

      Feel free to come back anytime to check our new content. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
  3. The way you’ve set this lesson out is impressive. You’ve actually managed to make it sound fun. I learnt French at school but have forgotten most of it if I’m honest. I learnt Portuguese as an adult and there are lots of similarities with the way their numbers work. I’m guessing it’s the Latin base.
    You’ve made it very straightforward and easy to remember. Great post.

    Reply
    • Hey, Debbie,

      Glad you liked it! Learning a language should be fun. 

      As you mentioned, there are many similarities between Portuguese and French, although I would say Portuguese and Spanish are more closely related.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  4. I studied French at high school for a short time and remember counting those numbers for one to ten. Your article reminded me of how to name the numbers greater than ten by using the composites. I enjoyed going back over this. I think we used a different naming from that used below such as the seventies. Thank you for the trip down memory lane

    Reply
    • Hi, JJ,

      Glad to help! Have you considered retaking French?

      Languages continually evolve. The numbers as we know them today might be different in let’s say 50 years. Who knows?

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply

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