Counting people, things and ordinals

Do you know how to count people and things in Irish? Learn some helpful words and phrases and test yourself on others you may already know!

Daoine

People

To count people in English, you just add the number in front of the people being counted. For example, four people, five doctors, six teachers etc.

But in Irish, different words are used to count people.

IrishEnglish
duine amháinone person
beirttwo people
triúrthree people
ceathrarfour people
cúigearfive people
seisearsix people
seachtarseven people
ochtareight people
naonúrnine people
deichniúrten people
aon duine dhéageleven people
dáréagtwelve people

When counting things in Irish, like a box or a chair, there are also some rules to remember.

When counting things from 2 to 6, add a seimhiú or aspirate (add a 'h') in the word if it begins with a consonant. Do nothing to the spelling of a word if it begins with a vowel.

  • a box is bosca, so three boxes becomes trí bhosca

  • a chair is cathaoir, so five chairs becomes cúig chathaoir

  • a glass is gloine, so six glasses becomes ghloine

  • an apple is úll, so two apples becomes dhá úll

When counting things from 7 to 10, add an urú or an eclipsis to the front of the word if it begins with a consonant. Add the prefix n- to the front of the word if it begins with a vowel.

  • a box is bosca, so seven boxes becomes seacht mbosca

  • a chair is cathaoir, so nine chairs becomes naoi gcathaoir

  • a glass is gloine, so eight glasses becomes ocht ngloine

  • an apple is úll, so ten apples becomes deich n-úll

When counting things in multiples of ten like ten, twenty, thirty and so on, nothing changes in the spelling of the word.

  • forty boxes remains daichead bosca

  • fifty chairs remains caoga cathaoir

  • seventy glasses remains seachtó gloine

  • twenty apples remains fiche úll

Some of the numbers change spelling when counting things too - becomes dhá and ceathair becomes ceithre.

Learn more about adding a séimhiú or urú to certain nouns in this guide.

Eisceachtaí

Exceptions

There are some words that do not follow the general rules for counting things in Irish.

These include...

  • ceann (counter for things generally, literally 'head')
  • bliain (year)
  • pingin (penny)
  • uair (hour or time)

You can look at the table below to see how their spellings change, and how they do not follow the regular rules of counting nouns.

NumberCeannbliainpinginuair
oneaon cheann (amháin)aon bhliain (amháin)pingin amháinaon uair (amháin)
twodhá cheanndhá bhliaindhá phingindhá uair
threetrí cinntrí blianatrí pinginetrí huaire
fourceithre cinnceithre blianaceithre pingineceithre huaire
fivecúig cinncúig blianacúig pinginecúig huaire
sixsé cinnsé blianasé pinginesé huaire
sevenseacht gcinnseacht mblianaseacht bpingineseacht n-uaire
eightocht gcinnocht mblianaocht bpingineocht n-uaire
ninenaoi gcinnnaoi mbliananaoi bpinginenaoi n-uaire
tendeich gcinndeich mblianadeich bpinginedeich n-uaire
Cúig úll - five apples

Na horduimhreacha

Ordinal numbers

Ordinal numbers tell us the position of something. For example, first, second or third.

These are also used in Irish to indicate dates. For example, an seachtú lá mí Feabhra - the seventh of February.

IrishEnglish
an chéadfirst
an darasecond
an triúthird
an ceathrúfourth
an cúigiúfifth
an séúsixth
an seachtúseventh
an t-ochtúeighth
an naoúninth
an deichiútenth
an t-aonú lá déagthe eleventh day
an fichiútwentieth
an t-aonú lá is fichethe twenty-first day