Don’t Say the “One” for One Hundred and One Thousand in French
When talking about “one hundred” or “one thousand” in French, we don’t say the “one”, we only say “cent” and “mille”.
However when talking about “one million, one billion” we do say the one: “un million, un milliard”…
Larger French Numbers
- Deux-cent-cinquante-trois mille-quatre-cent-vingt-cinq
S or no S After Your French Number?
A – with mille
Mille never takes an S.
B – with million, milliard, billion, billiard, trillion, trilliard
Add a silent S when it’s over 1.
De or no de After Your French Number ?
When “mille” is followed by a noun, there is not “de”:
When million, milliard etc… are followed by a noun, there is a “de” (or a d’).
Hyphen and French Numbers
There is only an hyphen in numbers under 100. Well, actually as someone pointed out in the common, the rules has changed in 1990. Now, you may write hyphens between all the digits of one number, and I did change this all over this lesson, although both spellings are still accepted (source http://www.question-orthographe.fr/question/le-trait-dunion-dans-les-nombres)
Before: Mille deux cent quatre-vingt-dix-sept.
Since 1990: Mille-deux-cent-quatre-vingt-dix-sept.
Uppercase or Lowercase?
French numbers are written using lowercase, unless the first letter starts the sentence.
Watch Out For the Pronunciation of Cinq, Six, Huit, Dix
Just like I explained in the lesson about the French digits, the French digits 5,6,8 and 10 drop their final consonant sound before another consonant.
This rule applies to cent, mille, million, milliard, billion, billiard, trillion, trilliard…
- Cinq-mille-six-cents – No q sound at cinq
- Dix-milliards d’Euros – No s sound at dix
Understanding The Logic Of Larger French Numbers
The logic of big numbers is exactly the same between French and English
You group your number by digits of 3, dividing your groups with the words mille, million, milliard…
So you need to develop your ear to focus on these “separating” words so you can get the whole number.
- Trois-milliards-deux-cent-vingt-cinq-millions-trois-cent-quatre-vingt-six-mille-sept-cent-huit = 3.225.386.708
So, if you want to master very large French numbers, you need to drill a lot on numbers of three digits (so up to 999) since these numbers will form the blocks for larger numbers.
Comma vs. Period For French Numbers
French uses a comma where English uses a period.
The comma in French is pronounced “virgule”.
Trois virgule vingt-cinq = 3,25 in French = 3.25 in English.
Over a Thousand, French may use a period to group the digits by three.
134.245.956,09 – Cent-trente-quatre-millions-deux-cent-quarante-cinq-mille-neuf-cent-cinquante-six virgule zéro neuf.
How To Say Huge Numbers in French?
You have to be carefully with the word “billion” that doesn’t translate the same way in French, US/Canadian English and British/Australian English…
Note that these numbers, although written “ill” which usually makes a Y sound in French, keep the “il” sound of the exceptions “mille villes tranquilles” (see Secrets of French Pronunciation)
- 1000 – mille (remember, no “un” there…)
- 1 000 000 – un million
- 1 000 000 000 – un milliard (!! one billion in US/CA English)
- 1 000 000 000 000 – un billion
- 1 000 000 000 000 000 – un billiard
- 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 – un trillion
The final d – if any – is silent.
For even bigger numbers, I encourage you to check out wikipedia
Large French Number Exercises
Most people (myself included!) have trouble reading a number over six digits, so it’s normal to read it somewhat slowly.
French Numbers Exercise one – slow
15.937, 2.737, 33.984, 82.755, 103.942, 1.813, 52.972, 93.484, 77.283, 69.487, 92.174, 86.931, 56.237, 3.372, 1.840, 87.669, 9.375, 28.159.
French Numbers Exercise two- faster
90.385, 2.973, 6.837, 1.948, 1.704, 101.743, 3.846, 9.927, 774.388, 3.640, 82.839, 2.744, 3.049, 19.938, 2.940, 38.098, 980.283.
French Numbers Exercise three – a few huge numbers
More Audio lessons about French numbers
- How To Best Learn French Numbers (with Audio Exercises)
- Learn French Numbers 0 to 19 (with Audio Exercises)
- Learn French Numbers 20 to 59 (with Audio Exercises)
- Learn French Numbers 60 to 99 (with Audio Exercises)
- Learn French Numbers Above 100 (with Audio Exercises)
- Learn Large French Numbers Mille, Million, Milliard… (with Audio Exercises)
- How to tell the time in French – (with audio)