Numerals

Numerals include all numbers, whether as words or as digits. They may be divided into two major types.

CARDINAL numerals include words like:

nought, zero, one, two, 3, fifty-six, 100, a thousand

ORDINAL numerals include

first, 2nd, third, fourth, 500th 

We classify numerals as a subclass of nouns because in certain circumstances they can take plurals:

five twos are ten
he’s in his eighties

They may also take the:

the fourth of July
a product of the 1960s

And some plural numerals can take an adjective before them, just like other nouns:

the house was built in the late 1960s
he’s in his early twenties
the temperature is in the high nineties

In each of our examples, the numerals occur independently, that is, without a noun following them. In these positions, we can classify them as a type of noun because they behave in much the same way as nouns do. Notice, for example, that we can replace the numerals in our examples with common nouns:

he is in his eighties ~he is in his bedroom
the fourth of July ~the beginning of July
a product of the 1960s ~a product of the revolution

Numerals do not always occur independently. They often occur before a noun, as in

one day
three pages
the fourth day of July

In this position, we classify them as determiners, which we will examine in the next section.

Finally, see if you can answer this question:

Is the subclass of numerals open or closed?

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