Italian cardinal numbers, of any length, may be written as a single, continuous word.
The first hundred of them are listed in the following table.
Larger numbers are based upon cento (“100”), mille (“1,000”), milione (“1,000,000”), miliardo, bilione, trilione, biliardo, triliardo, quadrilione and quadriliardo, individual numbers being formed by concatenation (sometimes with the elision of double vowels), e.g.
- cento e uno (“one hundred and one”)
- mille e una notte (“one thousand and one nights”)
- tremila e seicento dollaro (“three thousand and six hundred dollars”)
In this form a following noun is always singular and uno has to agree for gender:
- cento e una pagina (“one hundred and one pages”) (but: centouno pagine)
- duecento e una rupia (“two hundred and one rupees”)
- The Italian cardinal numbers may be used as nouns, pronouns, adjectives and the names of years.
- The number uno follows the rules of the indefinite article when used as an adjective (un espresso, uno scotch, una birra e un'aranciata).
- Numbers ending in "3" (starting with twenty-) are stressed on the last syllable and written as -tré.
- The number mille becomes mila in the plural e.g. duemila
- The plural of zero is zeri.
- The numbers milione and miliardo (and above) are not adjectives, and take a di when followed by a noun e.g. miliardi di lire.
- Numbers above a thousand are sometimes broken down into their constituent parts e.g. duemila => due mila (this is especially true of very large round numbers). A period is used instead of a comma to separate thousands from hundreds e.g. 25.000 (twenty-five thousand). Numbers above a hundred thousand are often broken down into groups of three e.g. 860.789 => ottocentosessantamila settecentoottantanove.
- The numbers Duecento, Trecento, etc. (when capitalized) are used to represent centuries:
- The noun forms of the numbers 1 to 31 are used for the days of a month e.g. il trenta di maggio.
- Years are sometimes written as separate words e.g. duemila e sette for 2007
- The final vowel of quattro, otto, venti and cento is sometimes elided:
ott'ore ― eight hours
vent'anni ― twenty years
- a quattr'occhi (“in private”, literally “to four eyes”)
There are special words for the first ten normal ordinal numbers, and the rest are formed from the cardinal number by adding -esimo (see table). The final "o" or "e" is dropped from the cardinal number, unless it is an é in which case it just loses the accent e.g. ventitreesimo
- Some ordinal numbers have synonyms e.g. undecimo and decimoprimo for undicesimo, centosesto for centoseiesimo, centosettimo for centosettesimo, centottavo for centottesimo, centonono for centonovesimo; 110th is centodecimo
- The ordinal numbers are used as adjectives and as fractions.
- When used as adjectives, they agree in gender and number with the nouns that they modify.
A simple combination of cardinal and ordinal numbers are used to form fractions.
These are written using a comma instead of a decimal point e.g. 3,1415926. Italians would say vìrgola (“comma”) instead of punto (“point”). For example: 3,5 would be verbalized as “tre virgola cinque”.
The word più is used for addition e.g.
Due più due uguale a quattro ― Two plus two equals four
The word meno is used for subtraction e.g.
Nove meno due uguale a sette ― Nine minus two equals seven
The word per is used for multiplication e.g.
Tre per sette uguale ventuno ― three times seven equals twenty-one
The word diviso is used for division e.g.
Dieci diviso due uguale cinque ― ten divided by two equals five
Most paper and online dictionaries only include a small number of Italian numbers – normally all simple numbers up to about 21, all the tens to 100 and then the large round numbers.
There are an infinite number of Italian numbers and it would be silly to attempt to include them all. Our aim is therefore to include all numbers up to 1000 (many added by a bot), and then to include numbers that demonstrate the various rules of formation of larger ones. Our criteria for inclusion also allows any other number to be included if use of it is found in books etc.