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Using cardinals and ordinals

 

Techniques > Use of language > Parts of speech > Using adjectives > Using cardinals and ordinals

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Method

Use cardinal numbers (one, two, three, etc.) to indicate an absolute quantity. They can also be used to imply that other numbers exist.

Use ordinals to show position relative to others (or simply to imply that other positions exist).

Example

There is one Jimi Hendrix. (Implication: there can never be another)

There will be two hundred people to serve. (Implication: lots of work!)

That is one way of doing it. (Implication: there are other ways)

This is the first time you have done that. (Implications: not done it before and can do it again)

Mike came second in the race. (Implication: someone else came first)

Discussion

Cardinals and ordinals are adjectives that describe numeric aspects of nouns.

Cardinals

Cardinals are numbers: One, two, three, etc. They can be used to show absolute numbers of things.

In some ways, they are like the definite article, as they indicate a fixed and singular thing. Using cardinals thus can give a sense of unchangeability.

The mention of a number also brings the whole concept of quantity into the frame, and the existence of other numbers can be implied.

Ordinals

Ordinals give relative numeric information, indicating the order or sequence of things: first, second, third, etc.

Use of an ordinal implies that there are other positions. Thus when someone comes first in a race, there is an implication of others coming second, third and so on.

See also

Definite and indefinite article, Assumption principle, Quantifying with adjectives

 

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