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Archive Language Point 138

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Ordinal numbers

Alice sitting at a table in a pub
Cardinal numbers are numbers which represent amounts (e.g. 1, 2, 3) while ordinal numbers are the position of something in a list of items (e.g. 1st, 2nd, 3rd).

 Cardinal numbers  Ordinal numbers
1 one 1st first
2 two 2nd second
3 three 3rd third
4 four 4th fourth
5 five 5th fifth
6 six 6th sixth
7 seven 7th seventh
8 eight 8th eighth
9 nine 9th ninth
10 ten 10th tenth


the first child born in a family
Kate is our first-born. Jerry was born two years after her.

first-time buyer
a person who is buying a flat or house for the first time
She's so excited about being a first-time buyer. She's looking forward to having a place of her own after living with her parents for so long.

first come, first served
the people who ask for something or are at the beginning of a queue, will be dealt with before other people who asked after or who are further down the queue
We only have 200 tickets so we'll be giving them out on a first come, first served basis.

first things first
an expression we use to tell someone that the more important things should be done before less important things
First things first, before you buy the ring, you have to ask her if she'll marry you!


second thoughts
start to doubt or question what you believed to be true in the past
Paul said 'It's just that Lucy's having second thoughts about the divorce'.

second childhood
when an older adult starts to behave like a child, (often because of mental weakness caused by old age)
My grandfather was in his second childhood for the last years of his life. He was always talking to me as if we were both 5 years old.

second wind
a return of strength or energy that makes it possible to continue doing something that needs a lot of effort
He felt really tired half-way through the race but when he saw the finish line he got a second wind and sprinted to the end.

second nature to you
something you are so familiar with it or that you can do easily without needing to think very much about it
I used to find driving very difficult but now it's second nature to me.


give someone the third degree
question someone very seriously and/or treat them roughly to get information
She's only 14. So when Frank told me he'd seen her smoking I gave her the third degree about it.

third degree burn
a very serious type of burn (rather than a first-degree or second-degree burns which aren't as serious)
There was a terrible accident at the factory and he suffered third-degree burns on his arms.

low quality
He says my university is third-rate but I think he's just a snob. It's because my uni is only 10 years old he thinks it's no good.

the third world
(old-fashioned term)
countries that are poor and are no very industrially developed. (People now usually call these areas 'developing counties') She worked for a third world charity, teaching children in Kenya for ten years.


temporary, not permanent

getting back together
re-starting a romantic or sexual relationship with someone you were having a relationship with previously

make our marriage work
make a success of our relationship

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