Cardinal vs Ordinal Numbers: Easy Guide & Chart

Numbers are the foundation of mathematics and understanding their different types is crucial for mathematical literacy. In this article, we explore two fundamental types of numbers: cardinal and ordinal numbers. Whether you’re a student, teacher, or just curious about mathematics, this guide will help you grasp these concepts with clarity and ease.

What are Cardinal Numbers?

Cardinal numbers represent quantity. They answer the question “How many?” and are used in counting. Examples include one, two, three, four, five, and so on. These numbers are essential in daily life, from counting objects to understanding numerical data.

Everyday Examples of Cardinal Numbers

  • Counting objects: “There are three apples on the table.”
  • Quantifying data: “The survey received fifty responses.”
  • Measuring time: “It’s twenty minutes past two.”

What are Ordinal Numbers?

Ordinal numbers indicate position or order. They are used to describe the sequence of items in a list or order of events. Examples are 1st (first), 2nd (second), 3rd (third), 4th (fourth), and so on.

Everyday Examples of Ordinal Numbers

  • Ranking in a competition: “She finished 1st in the race.”
  • Sequencing events: “His birthday is on the 3rd of March.”
  • Organizing items: “The second chapter of the book is fascinating.”

Cardinal and Ordinal Numbers Chart

To help visualize the difference, here’s a chart comparing cardinal and ordinal numbers:

Cardinal NumbersOrdinal Numbers
11st (First)
22nd (Second)
33rd (Third)
44th (Fourth)
55th (Fifth)
66th (Sixth)
77th (Seventh)
88th (Eighth)
99th (Ninth)
1010th (Tenth)
1111th (Eleventh)
1212th (Twelfth)
1313th (Thirteenth)
1414th (Fourteenth)
1515th (Fifteenth)
1616th (Sixteenth)
1717th (Seventeenth)
1818th (Eighteenth)
1919th (Nineteenth)
2020th (Twentieth)
2121st (Twenty-first)
2222nd (Twenty-second)
2323rd (Twenty-third)
2424th (Twenty-fourth)
2525th (Twenty-fifth)
2626th (Twenty-sixth)
2727th (Twenty-seventh)
2828th (Twenty-eighth)
2929th (Twenty-ninth)
3030th (Thirtieth)
100100th (Hundredth)

Note on Cardinal to Ordinal Number Conversion:

When converting cardinal numbers ending in “-y” to ordinal numbers, the “-y” is typically replaced with “-ieth.” This rule helps in understanding how to form ordinal numbers from their cardinal counterparts, especially for numbers in the twenties and beyond.

Examples of Conversion:

  • 20 (twenty) → 20th (twentieth)
  • 23 (twenty-three) → 23rd (twenty-third)
  • 156 (one hundred fifty-six) → 156th (one hundred fifty-sixth)

This conversion rule is a handy guideline for correctly forming ordinal numbers, ensuring clarity and correctness in both written and spoken forms of numerical expression.

Tips for Remembering Cardinal and Ordinal Numbers

  1. Cardinal numbers are for counting; ordinal numbers are for ordering.
  2. Ordinal numbers often end in “th,” except for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.
  3. Use ordinal numbers when referring to dates and positions.

Applications in Real Life

Understanding cardinal and ordinal numbers is not just academic; it has practical applications in various fields:

  • Mathematics and Statistics: For data analysis and quantitative research.
  • Event Planning: Organizing and sequencing events.
  • Education: Teaching basic math concepts to students.


Cardinal and ordinal numbers are integral to our understanding of mathematics and the world around us. By mastering these concepts, you can enhance your numerical literacy and apply these skills in various aspects of life.

Further Reading

For those interested in exploring more about numbers and mathematics, consider delving into topics like prime numbers, fractions, and algebra.

If you found this guide helpful, share it with students, educators, or anyone interested in enhancing their mathematical understanding. Stay tuned for more insightful articles on mathematics and education.