Ordinal numbers with "di"

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Also known as: 序数 (xùshù), ordinals and sequence numbers.

Level A2
Is similar to
Is used for Expressing order
Translations first

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:


第 + Number


  • 第 一the first
  • 第 二the second
  • 第 三the third
  • 第 四the fourth
  • 第 五the fifth
  • 第 六the sixth
  • 第 七the seventh
  • 第 八the eighth
  • 第 九the ninth
  • 第 十the tenth
  • 我 是 第 四I'm the fourth.
  • 这 次 考试,我 是 我们 班 第 一This time testing, I was the first in our class. (Meaning: I was the best in class)
  • 我们 班 第 一,他们 班 第 二Our class is the first, their class is the second. (Meaning: We are the best, they are the second best)

Full Pattern

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


第 + Number (+ MW + Noun)


  • 我 是 第 四 人 。I'm the fourth person.
  • 这 是 我 的 第 二 女儿。This is my second daughter.
  • 小李 是 他 的 第 三 女朋友。Little Li is his third girlfriend.
  • 这 是 我 今天 喝 的 第 八 啤酒。This is the 8th bottle of beer I drank today.
  • 第 一 月,我们 去 中国,第 二 月,我们 要 去 泰国。The first month, we go to China, the second month, we go to Thailand.
  • 我 的 第 一 中文 老师 是 美国 人。My first Chinese teacher was American.
  • 我 的 第 一 手机 是 NOKIA。My first cellphone was NOKIA.
  • 我 的 第 一 工作 是 服务 员。My first job was a waiter.
  • 你 是 我 的 第 一 朋友。You are my first (best) friend.
  • 我们 今天 学 第 三 课。Today we study the third chapter.
  • 这 是 我 第 一 说 中文。This is my first time speaking Chinese.

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。On the first day, we will be in the hotel.
  • 第 二 ,我们 去 了 长城。On the second day, we went to the Great Wall.
  • 这 是 我 第 一 去 北京。This is my first time going to Beijing.


Note that some nouns can form ordinals without 第 (dì). These include:

  • house/ building
  • floor (of a building)
  • older sister
  • younger brother
  • younger sister
  • older brother

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".

See also

Sources and further reading