Numbers And Counting In Basque
When learning a new language, it’s essential to learn how to count and use numbers. They are some of the first words that you’ll need to know in order to communicate basic information such as age, time, and quantity.
In Basque, it’s no different. There are several forms that numbers take, and you’ll need to learn them all if fluency is your goal.
We know this topic isn’t the most glamorous, but it’s extremely important, and we feel you should get it out of the way early. That’s where we come in.
In this guide, we’ll introduce you to the different types of numbers in Basque. You’ll learn how to count and what to use each type of number for. We’ve separated everything into categories for easy navigation.
Cardinal numbers in Basque
Cardinal numbers are the numbers we use for counting. They tell us how many of something there are. They’re numbers in their most common and basic form, and the ones you’re most likely to encounter.
In Basque, numbers 1-20 are relatively straightforward, though things do get a little complicated as you start to count higher. There is a pattern, however, which we’ll discuss below.
Making “the teens” in Basque is done pretty much how it’s done in most languages – by taking “hamar” (“ten” in Basque), removing the letter “r”, and adding numbers 2-7 to it. For example: “thirteen” = “hamahiru” (hamar -r +hiru).
“Eleven” is a bit different, as it’s actually “hamaika”.
Numbers “eighteen” and “nineteen” also have slightly different formations. Instead of “hama-” they get “heme”; and nineteen changes further, becoming “hemeretzi”.
Tens in Basque
This aspect of the counting system will take some getting used to (unless you’re familiar with the bizarre system French uses). They’re not the same, but they’re similar.
Numbers 30, 50, 70, and 90 in Basque are formed by taking the 20, 40, 60, and 80 respectively, adding the suffix “-ita”, then adding 10 (hamar). From there, if you want to make tens with units, you use teens.
For example: 73 = 60 + 13 (hirurogeita hamahiru).
See, we told you it’s complicated! But have a look at the table below, as it should help clear things up.
|Cardinal Numbers (English)||Zenbaki Kardinalak (Basque)|
|one hundred and one||ehun eta bat|
|one hundred and twenty-five||ehun eta hogeita bost|
Ordinal numbers in Basque
Ordinal numbers refer to the order of things. In other words, they tell us which position something occupies in a sequence. You’ll need these when talking about the date, among other things.
In Basque, ordinal numbers are formed by taking the cardinal number and adding “-garren” to the end of it. For example: “fourth” = “laugarren“. The only exception to this rule is “first”, which in Basque is “lehen”.
“Fifth” can also be irregular, as it’s “bosgarren“, though it can be spelled “bostgarren”, too.
|Ordinal Numbers (English)||Zenbaki Ordinalak (Basque)|
Fractions in Basque
Fractions are used to talk about quantities that aren’t whole numbers. They’re the numbers you use when you want to express something like “half” or “a quarter”.
These are important to know because you’ll need them when discussing time, measurement, and weight.
We’ve already covered a couple of these in the ordinal numbers section above, so they will look familiar.
|Fractions (English)||Zatikiak (Basque)|
|two thirds||bi heren|
|three fifths||hiru bosten|
|three quarters||hiru laurden|
In this section, we’ll tackle those other types of numbers that don’t fit squarely in a box. They’re things like tuples (double, etc.) and multiplicative terms (twice, etc.). You’ll usually use tuples to express quantity, while multiplicative adjectives are more often used when talking about frequency.
|dozen||hamabikoa / dozena|
Age in Basque
Asking someone’s age or telling them how old you are, are some of the earliest things you learn in any language. Luckily, Basque doesn’t overcomplicate things here, though the structure of the sentence might throw you off.
In Basque, you say the number first, followed by “I am”. Check it out below.
|How old are you?||Zenbat urte dituzu?|
|I am twenty-five years old||Hogeita bost urte ditut.|
|I am twelve years old||Hamabi urte ditut.|
Time in Basque
Of course, you’ll need to be able to tell the time in Basque if you’re going to be living or traveling there. This topic is often one of the more complex ones when learning a new language, but luckily we’re here to help!
You don’t need to make complicated sentences when answering the question, “what’s the time?”, simply give the hour.
The general idea (though there are exceptions to the rule) is that you take the cardinal number and add the suffix “-ak”. Have a look at the table below.
(We go into more detail about how to tell the time with fractions in our article Days of the Week, Months of the Year, Seasons, Weather, and Time in Basque.)
|What’s the time?||Zer ordu da?|
|It’s seven o’clock||Zazpiak puntuan.|
|It’s four o’clock||Laurak puntuan.|
The Date in Basque
Due to Basque’s somewhat convoluted grammar and structure, telling the date can be a bit tricky at first glance. You’ll use words and numbers you’ve already learned, but they’ll look different.
For example, you take the cardinal number and add “-a” to make it ordinal here, and the month takes on a new form as well. The word order is also different than what you might be used to. The following table should clear things up.
|What’s the date today?||Zein data sa gaur?|
|It’s the fifth of March today||Gaur martxoaren bosta da.|
|It’s the twenty-third of October today||Gaur urriaren hogeita hirua da.|
Learning numbers is essential when learning any new language. They’re used in everyday conversation, so it’s important to be able to understand and use them correctly.
While they might seem daunting at first, we hope this article has helped demystify the Basque numbers for you. With a little practice, you’ll be using them like a pro in no time!
Practice what you’ve learned with our free downloadable Basque numbers word search/word find puzzle.
Wanna learn some more Basque? Check out our list of the best YouTube channels for learning Basque.