If you’re looking for the numbers 1-10, and you should before you read this, go here.
When it comes to the higher numbers, everything after ۱۰ (10) follows some kind of pattern, so after we get through the teens I’ll only be showing a few examples to illustrate the pattern.
11-19; as in English, where we say “thirteen” or “three-ten,” Arabic will say ثلاثة عشر (thalāthah ʿashr, literally “three-ten”). Unlike English, Arabic doesn’t break the patter for “eleven” and “twelve,” and good for Arabic in my opinion.
English name |
Western Arabic numeral |
Eastern Arabic numeral |
Arabic name |
Arabic name transliterated |
eleven |
11 |
۱۱ |
أحَد عَشر |
aḥad ʿashr |
twelve |
12 |
۱۲ |
اِثنا عشر |
ithnā ʿashr |
thirteen |
13 |
۱۳ |
ثَلاثة عشر |
thalāthah ʿashr |
fourteen |
14 |
۱٤ |
أربَعة عشر |
arbaʿah ʿashr |
fifteen |
15 |
۱۵ |
خَمْسة عشر |
khamsah ʿashr |
sixteen |
16 |
۱٦ |
سِتّة عشر |
sittah ʿashr |
seventeen |
17 |
۱۷ |
سَبعة عشر |
sabʿah ʿashr |
eighteen |
18 |
۱۸ |
ثَمانية عشر |
thamāniyah ʿashr |
nineteen |
19 |
۱۹ |
تِسعة عشر |
tisʿah ʿashr |
Now we can count up by tens:
- 20 (twenty): عَشرون (ʿashrūn) or ۲۰
- 30 (thirty): ثَلاثون (thalāthūn) or ۳۰
- 40 (forty): أربَعون (arbaʿūn) or ٤۰
- 50 (fifty): خَمسون (khamsūn) or ۵۰
- 60 (sixty): سِتّون (sittūn) or ٦۰
- 70 (seventy): سَبعون (sabʿūn) or ۷۰
- 80 (eighty): ثَمانون (thamānūn) or ۸۰
- 90 (ninety): تِسعون (tisʿūn) or ۹۰
And now by hundreds:
- 100 (one hundred): مِئة (miʾah or, more archaically, مائة) or ۱۰۰
- 200: مئتان (miʾatān — dual form of مئة) or ۲۰۰
- 300: ثلاث مئة (thalāth miʾah) or ۳۰۰
- 400: أربع مئة (arbaʿ miʾah) or ٤۰۰
- 500: خمس مئة (khams miʾah) or ۵۰۰
- 600: ستّ مئة (sitt miʾah) or ٦۰۰
- 700: سبع مئة (sabʿ miʾah) or ۷۰۰
- 800: ثمان مئة (thamān miʾah) or ۸۰۰
- 900: تسع مئة (tisʿ miʾah) or ۹۰۰
- 1000 (one thousand): ألف (alf) or ۱۰۰۰
When you’re stringing numbers together you just use a lot of “ands,” and you read largest to smallest until you get to the tens and singles places, which are inverted, like so:
- 28 (twenty-eight): ۲۸ (ثمانية و عشرون, thamāniyah wa ʿishrūn)
- 51 (fifty-one): ۵۱ (واحد و خَمسون, wāḥid wa khamsūn)
- 739 (seven hundred thirty-nine): ۷۳۹ (سبع مئة و تسعة و ثلاثون, sabʿ miʾah wa tisʿah wa thalāthūn)
To somebody accustomed to a left-to-right writing system, it seems like Arabic strangely writes its large numerals left-to-right (above, “739” is ۷۳۹), even though the rest of the language is written from right-to-left. Like many things in Arabic, it’s best if you just roll with it.
When counting things with these higher numbers, you counter-intuitively follow the number with the singular noun, in indefinite accusative (direct object) case, and the singles digit part of the whole number takes the opposite gender as the noun. I know; again, just try not to think about it. For example, “73 books” (book is a masculine noun, كتاب) would be ثلاثة و سبعون كتاباً (thalāthah wa sabʿūn kitāban), and “57 magazines” (magazine is a feminine noun, مجلّة) would be ًسبع و خمسون مجلّة (sabʿ wa khamsūn majallatan).