Ordinal Numbers (Last, First, Second)

What are Ordinal Numbers (last, first, second)?

Ordinal numbers are a type of number used to indicate position or rank in a sequence. Examples include first, second and last. They usually refer to the ordinal position of a person or thing in a series, such as first place or third person.

Ordinal numbers are most commonly used when counting, such as measuring the size of something; they might indicate which item is the largest, smallest, most significant, least powerful etc.

These numbers can also be used to count things or items in sets or collections; for example, you could use ordinals to count desserts served at a party. Ordinals are useful because they allow us to quickly sort information into categories and order it so that it’s easier for us to comprehend.

Ordinal Numbers Rules

Learning these four critical rules when using phrases with Ordinal Numbers will help communication become clearer and easier. With these four rules firmly entrenched in one’s grammar skillset, any English speaker can properly construct sentences with ease!

QuantityThe first determiner rule states that determiners should be used when quantifying a noun, such as “five apples”.
IndicateThe second determiner rule explains how determiners should be used to indicate the specific or general nature of a noun, such as “the apple” or “an apple” respectively.
PlacementThe third determiner rule is about placement — determiners should always come before the noun they’re assigned to.
MultiplicityAnd finally, the fourth determiner rule states that determiners can be mixed and concatenated together when multiple determiners appear in the same sentence.
Ordinal Numbers Rules and Explanations Table
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Examples of Ordinal Numbers (last, first, second)

Ordinal numbers play an important role in our daily lives. They provide us with a specific way of expressing rank or order to items or people. Examples of ordinal numbers include:

  • First
  • Second
  • Last

Additionally, ordinal numbers can be used for both counting and organizing. Counting ordinals, such as one-third or one-hundredth, are commonly seen in mathematics, while ordinals such as first place, second date and last in line are often used to bring order to proceedings. Understanding ordinal numbers are essential for following instructions, participating in activities and understanding how things are ranked.

Ordinal Numbers Exercises with Answers


  • I am _ years old.
  • The __ finisher won the race.
  • Please turn to page _.
  • What is written on page __?
  • Wait for a _, please.


  • I am sixteen years old.
  • The first-place finisher won the race.
  • Please turn to page eleven.
  • What is written on page twenty-five?.
  • Wait for a second, please.

Ordinal Numbers List

ArticlesArticles can include ‘the’ or ‘a’.
PossessivesPossessives can be commonly represented with an apostrophe ‘s’ (ex. Mary’s).
DemonstrativesDemonstrative determiners are words like ‘this,’ ‘that,’ and ‘those.’
InterrogativesInterrogative determiners are words like ‘which’ that are used as interrogative pronouns when forming questions.
QuantifiersQuantifiers indicate quantity with determinants such as ‘some’ and ‘many’.
Number WordsNumber words function аѕ determiner-adjectives with numerals like ‘five.’
Ordinal Number List Table
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Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners

Being an English Language Learner (ELL) or an ESL student can be a daunting task. One of the common struggles for these students is ordinal numbers. Remembering the language associated with ordinal numbers such as ordinals, ordinal adjectives, ordinal fractions, and sequences can seem overwhelming.

However, with plenty of practice and dedication, ordinal numbers become much more familiar over time! In order to improve your knowledge of ordinal numbers in the English language effectively, practice writing down ordinal numbers while also memorizing each word. Additionally, find a study partner who you can practice verbally with not only to help gain fluency but increase confidence when talking about ordinals in the conversation!

Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand possessive proper nouns and cardinal numbers (one, two, three).

Common Mistakes Made by English Learners

Ordinal numbers are often one of the first things that English learners have difficulty with. This is likely because they are not used in the same way in every language. ordinal numbers are used to show order or rank. In Spanish, for instance, the first would be written as primero, whereas in French it would be premier. As a result, it can be tricky for English learners to remember which ordinal number corresponds to which position. A common mistake is to use ordinal numbers when ordinals are not appropriate, such as saying “I have three sister” instead of “I have three sisters.”

Common Mistakes:

1. Incorrect Tense

Why it Happens

Not having a firm grasp on correct determiner usage can confuse your statements. This can cause you to use the wrong determiners and misconstrue your message.

Correct Use

When speaking English, you would use a determiner that reflects the subject in question. Keep context in mind when selecting your determiners.

2. Lack of determiners

Why it Happens

The easiest mistake is leaving out determiners when needed. Failing to use these in phrases can lead others to misinterpret what you are trying to express.

Correct Use

Determiners join words to a person, place, or thing – for example, ‘the cat meowed’ or ‘I love pasta’.

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3. Inconsistency

Why it Happens

People forget how they described something before and change the context in a contradictory manner. This confuses the reader.

Correct Use

Be sure that your determiners remain consistent throughout your writing. There should be no sudden shifts from ‘they’ to ‘this’ unless there was a clear shift in the thing being described.

4. Incorrect Usage

Why it Happens

You don’t know which determiners to use, so you use too many and it confuses the statement.

Correct Use

Using too many determiners can make your writing sound monotonous and can also lead to viewers losing interest. Therefore it is important to focus on expressing yourself clearly and effectively with them.

Tips to Avoid Common Mistakes:

Avoiding common mistakes can often be a challenge, but there are some valuable tips you can use to help.

  • One of the most effective strategies is to work in an organized, ordinal fashion – start with the basics and work your way through whatever task you’re tackling, one step at a time. Doing so minimizes the risk of missing key steps and will help ensure that you remain focused as you complete the task efficiently.
  • Whenever possible, take breaks and review your work often; this provides an opportunity to identify any potential mistakes early on and make adjustments before submitting.
  • Finally, an incredibly useful trick is to have someone else look over your work; this second eye can spot errors you may have missed, leaving less room for unexpected slip-ups. Of course, you might want to avoid this in private counting sessions such as online banking, minimum loan payments, credit cards, or anything to do with bank accounts.

Following these tips will help ensure success in whatever venture you undertake.

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Learning Ordinal Numbers Strategies and Best Practices

Relying upon ordinal numbers is key to understanding math concepts and establishing proficiency within an elementary math curriculum. Developing ordinal number strategies can be simple and effective when the basics are followed.

Some best practices include: connecting ordinal numbers to everyday experiences such as arranging toys, finding items on the shelf, or even counting songs; creating physical movements to help children remember ordinal numbers (such as kids playing hopscotch that ends with “number eight in ordinal state”); using picture cards to teach ordinal numbers preceding and succeeding a given number; and providing games like hide-and-seek or scavenger hunts that involve locating objects based on their ordinal position. Keep reading for more useful tips:

Tip 1: Study a List

Why it helps

Learning the various forms and using them properly in speaking and writing is easier than it seems with daily practice. A list can simplify this process and make it seem less daunting.

Daily Life Example

The best way to learn to use determiners correctly is to study a list of determiners and their usages, and then practice writing sentences with them.

Tip 2: Practice Reading

Why it helps

Exposing yourself to determiners hidden between other words can help you identify them faster and more accurately.

Daily Life Example

To ensure that you understand how frequently a type of pronoun should be used it’s important to practice reading with them as well, so the meanings become clear. So keep a book of your choice on hand and highlight every pronoun you come across.

Tip 3: Everyday Conversations

Why it helps

By applying the determiners exercise to everyday conversations, you’ll find these words easy to remember and use in the near future.

Daily Life Example

Take your time when speaking to people. Take note of the determiners they use, and try and repeat them back in different contexts. You can also do this from the comfort of your home by recording yourself or using an AI assistant.

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Ordinal Numbers Frequently Asked Questions

Writing ordinal numbers with superscript notation has long been an accepted practice in many areas of academia, particularly in fields such as mathematics, units of time, loan(s) subjects, proper times, secure banking, and statistics. It can serve to simplify large ordinal values, such as when writing ordinals higher than first or second, into a much more concise format.

However, this style can also introduce confusion to written works by blurring the distinction between ordinal and cardinal numbers, so it is often best used only with ordinals lower than third if the clarity is an important factor for the project. Ultimately, whether using the superscript notation for ordinal numbers is the correct choice depends on the purpose of each individual piece of writing.

When you’re dealing with ordinal form, it can be confusing to know which suffix is the correct one. The ordinal number for 32 is 32nd – if we ignore spelling rules, this would explain why “32th” is often written incorrectly!

It’s important to remember that when ordinal numbers are written in the singular form (1st, 2nd, 3rd etc) the letters “t-h” is used as the suffix – so in this case, this would be true for both the single ordinal number and ordinal numbers following 10 such as 32nd.

Get in the habit of double checking you’ve used the correct suffix and you won’t find yourself making silly mistakes like these anymore!

When it comes to ordinal numbers, degrees are somewhat of an outlier. If you’re trying to describe its ordinality or numerical sequence in a set, there is no single agreed-upon term for “0°”. Different English-speaking countries will use different terms for the ordinal of zero – for example in North America, it is commonly accepted and understood to say “zeroth”.

Alternately, many Europeans often use “nought” instead. Regardless of which term is used in your particular context though, the ordinality of 0° remains the same – it represents nothing for means of comparison in a standing order.

“Last” is an ordinal number, which means it’s used when referring to a position or order in a sequence of objects.

Ordinal numbers are sometimes referred to as ordinals and usually refer to the ordering of something rather than its quantity. In this case, “last” is often used when specifically referring to the final item in a sequence such as one’s “last resort” or “the last step.”

As ordinal numbers, their usage often helps us identify how many objects are present in a certain scenario as well as their placement regarding one another.

Ordinal numbers are an essential part of the English language, as they convey the ordinal relationship between objects. When reading ordinal numbers, you are able to discern order and rank among individual elements. Furthermore, ordinal numbers demonstrate that some objects have more importance or value than others.

Without ordinal numbers, it would be difficult to communicate relative positions in a straightforward manner. For example, ordinals can help us distinguish between first place and second place in an athletic race, or rank students from top to bottom on a class exam. They can help specify a unit of time or secure business loans.

All in all, ordinal numbers provide us with a tool to effectively categorize and compare quantitative information within adjective forms.

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