Dutch Grammar Numerous numerals
How we use the numerals is largely the same in all countries, but how we count is not. Both Dutch and English follow the decimal system with base ten, 'het tientallig stelsel met grondgetal tien'. We will see that the numerals = 'telwoorden' are quite similar, at least up to twenty:
one two three four five six seven eight nine ten
een twee drie vier vijf zes zeven acht negen tien
eleven twelve thirteen fourteen fifteen sixteen seventeen eighteen nineteen twenty
elf twaalf dertien veertien vijftien zestien zeventien achttien negentien twintig
From 21 onwards there is a slight difference: twenty-one, twenty-two, etc. = 'eenentwintig, negenentwintig, enzovoort'
In English you start with the tens and in Dutch you end with them. From 30 to 90 it goes just the same; some examples:
thirty-one forty-two fifty-three sixty-four seventy-five eighty-six ninety-nine
'eenendertig' 'tweeënveertig' 'drieënvijftig' 'vierenzestig' 'vijfenzeventig' 'zesentachtig' 'negenennegentig'
From hundred it goes like this: one hundred and nine thousand million milliard billion
'honderdnegen' 'duizend' 'miljoen' 'miljard' 'biljoen'.
The names of the numerals are seldom used in writing, but in conversation you might need them.
The ordinal numbers end on -th, 'de rangtelwoorden eindigen op -de'. But not all of them. The first three English ordinal numbers deviate: first, second, third, while in Dutch they are 'eerste', 'tweede', 'derde'. A further deviation is that after the consonants 't' and 'g' '-de' becomes '-ste'; 'achtste', 'twintigste', 'negenennegentigste'.
The world has known and still knows other numeral systems. English and Dutch show some relicts of the duodecimal system, 'het twaalftallig stelsel'; in both languages we have special words for 12 and 144, 12 x 12: dozen = 'dozijn' and gross = 'gros', respectively. Both 'gross' and 'gros' also stood for 'many', 'veel'. The Dutch language has several words derived from 'gros', such as 'groslijst', een total list, and 'grossier', a wholesale dealer.
The duocedimal system may be related to the old knowledge that there are roughly 'twelve moon cycli in a year'. Where the English have a 'baker's dozen' of 13 breads as a security measure, the Dutch have the expression 'thirteen in a dozen', dertien in een dozijn" for 'a product of low quality'. Finally, we have 2 x 12 hours in a natural day, 12 for the day and 12 for the night: 'wij hebben twee x twaalf uren in een etmaal, twaalf voor de dag en 12 voor de nacht.
The vigesimal system, 'het twintigtallig stelsel' is still used, for instance by the Basques, and there are also traces in the numeral system in French, where eighty is '4 times 20'. Also, 20 was used as a unit for selling small products such as eggs and fish. The word 'score' was used for this number. One of the Dutch words from this time is 'snees'. A score of eggs would then be 'een snees eieren', meaning 20 eggs.
The sexagesimal system has left its traces as well. An hour has 60 minutes and a minute has 60 seconds: 'een uur heeft zestig minuten en een minuut heeft zestig seconden'.