Classes of Numerals

Book Nav

132. The Latin Numerals may be classified as follows.


  1. Cardinal Numbers, answering the question how many?

    ūnus one
    duo two, etc.

  2. Ordinal Numbers,1 adjectives derived (in most cases) from the Cardinals, and answering the question which in order?

    prīmus first
    secundus second, etc.

  3. Distributive Numerals, answering the question how many at a time?

    singulī one at a time
    bīnī two by two, etc.

II. NUMERAL ADVERBS, answering the question how often?

semel once
bis twice, etc.



1.The Ordinals (except secundus, tertius, octāvus , nōnus) are formed by means of suffixes related to those used in the superlative and in part identical with them. Thus, decimus (compare the form īnfimus) may be regarded as the last of a series of ten; prīmus is a superlative of a stem akin to prō; the forms in -tus (quārtus, quīntus, sextus)may be compared with the corresponding Greek forms in -τος, and with superlatives in -ισ-το-ς, while the others have the superlative ending -timus (changed to -simus). Of the exceptions, secundus is a participle of sequor; alter is a comparative form (compare -τερος in Greek), and nōnus is contracted from †novenos. The cardinal multiples of ten are compounds of -gint-, ten (a fragment of a derivative from decem).
XML Files

Suggested Citation

Meagan Ayer, Allen and Greenough’s New Latin Grammar for Schools and Colleges. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-947822-04-7.