Monday, 4 March 2013

Tell Me, What Number Is That?


SCENARIO
Imagine you are talking to a relative, a friend or a colleague. You are holding a card with a number in your hand. The other person can't see the number properly and says : "tell me, what number is that?"*.

In Spanish, he/ she could choose to be less formal and say to you:
Dime, ¿qué número es ese?

On the other hand, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say to you:

Dígame, ¿qué número es ese? 

OUR TIP
Your answer should be quite straightforward. Just saying the number in the card you are holding in your hand should be sufficient. Maybe the number on the card ends in a one, but the remainder of the number can't be seen properly.

You could say that the number on the card is:
  • El número uno (the number one);
  • El uno (the number one);
  • El número veintiuno (the number twenty one);
  • El veintiuno (the number twenty one);
  • El número setenta y uno (the number seventy one);
  • El setenta y uno (the number seventy one);
  • El número ciento treinta y uno (the number one hundred and seventy one);
  • El ciento treinta y uno (the number one hundred and seventy one);

Now you should practise replying to someone who says to you:

Dime, ¿qué número es ese?

*Please see grammar topic below, the number one- just a number

Grammar-The Number One
When using numbers in Spanish, you should bear in mind the following peculiarities of the number one:

    1. Just A Number
You should use the masculine form “uno” for the number one and all numbers ending in one* when they are used just on their own** (i.e. when not counting things).

Some examples of expressions of this type are:
  • El número uno (the number one);
  • El uno (the number one);

The same applies to numbers ending in the number one, for example:
  • El número veintiuno (the number twenty one);
  • El veintiuno de abril (the twenty first of April);
  • Veintiuno (twenty one);
  • Ciento noventa y uno (one hundred and ninety one);
  • Mil trescientos cincuenta y uno (one thousand three hundred and fifty one);

*NB The number eleven (11) and all numbers ending in eleven excepted.
**NB Time expressions excepted (see 2 below).

    2. The Time
You should use the feminine form “la una” for all time expressions with the term “one” in them.

Some examples of expressions of this type are:
  • La una menos cuarto (a quarter to one);
  • La una menos diez (ten to one);
  • Es la una (it is one o'clock);
  • Es la una en punto (it is one o'clock);
  • A la una y cinco (at five past one);
  • A la una y cuarto (at a quarter past one);
  • A la una y media (at half past one);

3. Number Followed By A Noun
You should use the masculine form “un” for the number one when placed before singular masculine nouns and other numbers ending in one* when placed before plural masculine nouns.

Some examples of expressions of this type are:
  • Un caballo (one horse);
  • Un litro de leche (one litre of milk);
  • Un euro (one Euro);

The same applies to numbers ending in the number one, for example:
  • Veintiún caballos (21 horses);
  • Ciento un litros de leche (101 litres of milk);
  • Dos mil trescientos cincuenta y un euros (2351 Euro);

You should use the feminine form “una” for the number one when placed before singular feminine nouns and all other numbers ending in one* when placed before plural feminine nouns.

Some examples of expressions of this type are:
  • Una mujer (one woman);
  • Una noche de verano (one summer's evening);
  • Una libra (one Pound);

The same applies to numbers ending in the number one, for example:
  • Veintiuna mujeres (21 women);
  • Ciento una noches de verano (101 summer evenings);
  • Dos mil trescientas cincuenta y una libras (£2351);

*NB The number eleven (11) and all numbers ending in eleven excepted..


Now you should practise the use of the number one with some examples of your own.

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