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Ordinal numbers with "di"

(Redirected from Ordinal numbers)
Also known as: 序数 (xùshù), ordinals and sequence numbers.
Chinese-grammar-wiki-di.jpg

We use ordinal numbers to express things like "number one" or "second," so mastering them in Chinese is important. Fortunately, they are also very easy to learn by just adding the prefix 第 (dì).

Basic Usage

In English, there are four different suffixes for ordinal numbers: -st, -nd, -rd and -th. Chinese makes things a lot simpler by using one prefix for all ordinal numbers: 第 (dì). This character is simply placed in front of the number:

Structure

第 + Number

Examples

ChineseEnglish
第 一
Dì yī
The first
第 二
Dì èr
The second
第 三
Dì sān
The third
第 四
Dì sì
The fourth
第 五
Dì wǔ
The fifth
第 六
Dì liù
The sixth
第 七
Dì qī
The seventh
第 八
Dì bā
The eighth
第 九
Dì jiǔ
The ninth
第 十
Dì shí
The tenth

Full Pattern

You can also add in a [measure word] (MW) and a [noun] to make the structure a bit fuller.

Structure

第 + Number (+ Measure word + Noun)

Examples

  • 我 是 第 一 到 公司 的 人。Wǒ shì dì yī dào gōngsī de rén. I'm the first person that came to the office.
  • 他 要 坐 早上 第 一 地铁 去 上班。Tā yào zuò zǎoshang dì yī bān dìtiě qù shàngbān. He needs to take the first metro to go to work in the morning.
  • 小李 是 她 的 第 三 男朋友。Xiǎo Lǐ shì tā de dì sān nánpéngyou. Little Li is her third boyfriend.
  • 我 的 第 一 中文 老师 是 美国 人。Wǒ de dì yī Zhōngwén lǎoshī shì Měiguó rén. My first Chinese teacher was American.
  • 爸爸 的 第 一 手机 是 NOKIA。Bàba de dì yī shǒujī shì NOKIA. Dad‘s first cellphone was a NOKIA.
  • 你 的 第 一 工作 是 什么?Nǐ de dì yī gōngzuò shì shénme? What is your first job?
  • 到 美国 的 第 二 月 我 开始 学 英文 了。Dào Měiguó de dì èr yuè wǒ kāishǐ xué yīngwén le. I started learning English the second month I was in America.
  • 第 二 第 五 汉字 怎么 读?Dì èr háng dì wǔ hànzi zěnme dú? How do you read the fifth character from the second line?
  • 这 次 考试,我 是 我们 班 第 一Zhè cì kǎoshì, wǒ shì wǒmen bān dì yī. This time we tested, I was first in our class. (Meaning: I was the best in class)
  • 这 次 比赛,我们 班 第 一,他们 班 第 二Zhè cì bǐsài, wǒmen bān dì yī, tāmen bān dì èr. In this contest, our class is the first, their class is the second. (Meaning: We are the best, they are the second best)


Note that there are some words that don't use measure words because they themselves are already measure words. For example: 天 (tiān), 年 (nián), 周 (zhōu), 次 (cì) etc.

  • 第 一 ,我们 在 宾馆 里。Dì yī tiān, wǒmen zài bīnguǎn lǐ. On the first day, we will be in the hotel.
  • 来 上海 以后 的 第 二 ,他 开 了 这 家 公司。Lái Shànghǎi yǐhòu de dì èr nián, tā kāi le zhè jiā gōngsī. He started this company the second year he came to Shanghai.
  • 下 个 月 的 第 一 老板 要 出差。Xià gè yuè de dì yī zhōu , lǎobǎn yào chūchāi. The boss needs to go on a business trip the first week of next month.
  • 这 是 我 第 一 去 北京。Zhè shì wǒ dì yī qù Běijīng. This is my first time going to Beijing.

Exceptions

Note that some nouns can form ordinals without 第 (dì). With these, the number can be used directly. For example, 七楼 (qī lóu) is "the seventh floor," or 二姐 (Èr jiě) "the second oldest sister." A more complete list of these nouns can be found below.

ChineseEnglishExample

Lóu
Floor of a building七楼 (qī lóu)
Seventh floor

Céng
Floor of a building一层 (Yī céng)
First floor

Older brother二哥 (Èr gē)
Second oldest brother

Jiě
Older sister二姐 (Èr jiě)
Second oldest sister

Younger brother二弟 (Èr dì)
Second (younger) brother

Mèi
Younger sister二妹 (Èr mèi)
Second (younger) sister


See also

Sources and further reading