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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 yīThe first
第 二dì èrThe second
第 三dì sānThe third
第 四dì sìThe fourth
第 五dì wǔThe fifth
第 六dì liùThe sixth
第 七dì qīThe seventh
第 八dì bāThe eighth
第 九dì jiǔThe ninth
第 十dì shíThe tenth

Full Pattern

You can also add in a measure word (Measure Word) 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 train in the morning to go to work.
  • 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 cell phone was a NOKIA.
  • 你 的 第 一 工作 是 什么?Nǐ de dì yī gōngzuò shì shénme? What was 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 after coming 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," even though there is no 第 (dì).

ChineseEnglishExample
lóufloor (of a building)七楼qī lóu
céngfloor (of a building)一层yī céng

See also

Sources and further reading