Ordinal Numbers

Ordinal numbers designate order in counting. They answer the questions Какой? and Который? (Which one?). For example,

пятый день - the 5th day
восьмое слово - the 8th word

Like in English, Russian ordinal numbers are formed from cardinal numbers. However there are more endings in Russian (-ый, -ой, -ая, -ое, -ые) as opposed to the only ending -th in English.

Consider these examples:

пят(ь) + ый, -ая, -ое, -ые
  пятый, пятая, пятое, пятые

шест(ь) + ой, -ая, -ое, -ые 
makes   шестой, шестая, шестое, шестые

Of course, like in English, there are exceptions for the numerals first, second and third. In Russian, they are первый, второй and третий correspondingly. You may see a list of Russian ordinal numbers here.

The numerals второй, шестой, седьмой, восьмой, сороковой are stressed on the ending. All other ordinal numbers are stressed on the stem (пятый, десятый, тринадцатый, первый, etc.)

The initial form of Russian ordinal numbers is nominative singular masculine (первый, пятый). All ordinal numbers appear in dictionaries and vocabularies in the initial form.

Russian ordinal numbers change by cases, number and gender the same ways as adjectives change.

Change of второй by cases

Case второй
Compare with the adjective
Nominative второй молодой
Genitive второго молодого
Dative второму молодому
Accusative as Nominative as Nominative
Instrumental вторым молодым
Prepositional (о) втором (о) молодом

When declining compound ordinal numbers (like двадцать пять - twenty five), only the last word changes by cases. Note that only the last word has the form of an ordinal number; the word двадцать is a cardinal number. This is similar to the English pair twenty five - twenty fifth where only the last word is an ordinal number.

Change of двести тридцать пятый by cases

Case двести тридцать пятый
(two hundred thirty-fifth)
Nominative двести тридцать пятый
Genitive двести тридцать пятого
Dative двести тридцать пятому
Accusative as Nominative
Instrumental двести тридцать пятым
Prepositional (о) двести тридцать пятом

Plural ordinal numbers are used in sentences and phrases with:

  • plural nouns formed from singular nouns
    первые дни месяца - the first days of the month
  • some nouns that are always plural (i.e. do not have a singular form)
    вторые очки (весы, брюки, сутки) - the second spectacles (scales, pants, day)

Related Lessons

Discussion about countable and uncountable nouns can be found here.

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Word: писа́ть
Meaning: to write, paint, compose
Pronunciation: [pee-SAHT']

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Russian: Кристально чистая вода
English: Crystally clear water


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