Take the 2-minute tour ×
Spanish Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Spanish language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What is the rule for forming fractional numbers (half, quarter, tenth, twenty-second, etc.) in Spanish? The small numbers are easy to find in a dictionary (tercio, octavo, etc.), but how would you know how to say, for example, 536th?

And speaking of 536th, how in Spanish do you abbreviate fractional numbers (using the numbers themselves instead of spelling them out)?

share|improve this question
add comment

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

As you've said, small numbers are easy to find:

  • 1/2 mitad o medio

  • 1/3 tercio

  • 1/4 cuarto

  • 1/5 quinto

  • 1/6 sexto

  • 1/7 séptimo

  • 1/8 octavo

  • 1/9 noveno

  • 1/10 décimo o décima

  • 1/11 onceavo o undécimo

  • 1/12 doceavo o duodécimo

After that is only adding -avo to the number (or -ava when femenine is needed):

  • 1/13 treceavo
  • 1/14 catorceavo

In cases like 1/50, by adding -avo there are two a. In that case you drop an a:

  • ×cincuentaavo → cincuentavo.

until 100:

  • 1/100 centésimo o centésima

  • 1/1000 milésimo o milésima

then is only combinations, i.e. centésimo quinceavo (1/115)

You should not mistake fractional numbers for ordinals. For example, it's a common mistake to say quincuagésimo (50º) instead cincuentavo (1/50) when referring to the last one. Also, the opposite happens a lot too, for example saying treceavo (1/13) when refering to decimo tercero (13º). This errors must be avoided.

There is much more information in DPD (RAE): fraccionarios

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks! How do the abbreviations work (50º means 50th, right)? –  jrdioko Feb 7 '12 at 23:05
1  
@jrdioko Yes. 50º means 50th; ordinal, as in “He came in the 50th position” (Él llegó en la 50º posición). When using masculine (sexto) you use º (6º). When femenine (sexta), use ª (6ª). But that should be addressed in a ordinals question rather than a fractional numbers. –  pferor Feb 7 '12 at 23:07
1  
The examples you used for 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, etc., are for ordinals, not for fractional numbers. 1/5 is un quinto (quinto is 5th), 1/6 is un sexto (sexto is 6th)... –  Icarus Feb 8 '12 at 11:25
    
@Icarus Hi. Quinto may be 5th and also 1/5. Same for others. But yes, when you are talking about a fraction, you usually say also the numerator (1/5 → un quinto; 2/5 → dos quintos; 3/5 → tres quintos,...) See two first acceptions in RAE dictionary: buscon.rae.es/draeI/SrvltConsulta?TIPO_BUS=3&LEMA=quinto –  pferor Feb 8 '12 at 11:32
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.