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)?

1 Answer 1


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

  • Thanks! How do the abbreviations work (50º means 50th, right)?
    – jrdioko
    Feb 7, 2012 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, 2012 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, 2012 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, 2012 at 11:32

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