After learning the cardinal numbers in Portuguese, you’ll also find it useful to learn ordinal numbers: the numbers defining an object’s position in a series, such as “first,” “second,” “third,” and so on. These, as you will see below, are slightly more challenging than the cardinal numbers, firstly because you have to think about gender and plurality a lot more, and secondly because the words themselves can be a little awkward and are harder to remember. However, if you practice with an expert tutor, it shouldn’t take you too long to master this subject.
Just like articles and adjectives, ordinal numbers in Portuguese inflect for gender and plurality. For example, the word for “first,” primeiro, can be spelled four different ways, depending on the noun to which it refers:
The first day
O primeiro dia (masculine singular)
The first thing
A primeira coisa (feminine singular)
The first days
Os primeiros dias (masculine plural)
The first things
As primeiras coisas (feminine plural)
The system of suffixes is the same for all ordinal numbers in Portuguese—so, masculine singulars always end with -o, feminine singulars all end with -a, masculine plurals all end with -os, and feminine plurals all end with -as. In the next section, for convenience, we will use the masculine singular; to inflect for femininity or plurality, simply remove the -o at the end of the word and replace it with the appropriate suffix.
The Ordinal Numbers in Portuguese, from 1st to 1,000th
Note: For compound ordinal numbers such as this, both (or all) words must be inflected for gender and plurality.
Centésimo décimo primeiro
Mastering Numbers in Portuguese
The main challenge with learning numbers in Portuguese, whether cardinal or ordinal, is simply memorizing the vocabulary—there aren’t too many grammatical rules to learn. The best way of mastering this subject is to practice regularly with a tutor who can coach you on all the vocabulary and guide you through the subject at a pace tailored to your individual needs.