Cardinal and Ordinal Numbers


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Cardinal Numbers

Cardinal numbers are basically those numbers which provide us the exact quantity of an object, meaning how many of something such as five, seven, eight, ten etc. Simply to say, cardinal numbers answer “How many?”

For example: The given picture shows 4 oranges in a basket. Hence, 4 or ‘four’ here represents a cardinal number.

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Next, for instance, tell us the cardinal number for the given below image. In the image, you can find 16 coins , thus the cardinal number here is 16. 

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Ordinal Numbers

Ordinal numbers meaning states that the numbers which provide us with the exact position of an object are known as the ordinal numbers. Ordinal numbers notifies the position of an object instead of their quantity.

For Example:

The picture below depicts different floors in a building. We typically use ordinal numbers to describe their position.

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The numbers 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th explains the position of different floors in the building. Thus, all of them are ordinal numbers.

Difference Between Cardinal And Ordinal Numbers

There is a clear difference between cardinal and ordinal and that you will get the complete idea about from the following:-

Cardinal Numbers

Ordinal Numbers

Cardinal is a function of utility that identifies the satisfaction of a commodity used by an individual and can be backed up using a numeric value.

Ordinal utility describes that user goods can be ranked or positioned in order of preference but cannot be assessed numerically.

Cardinal utility describes the quantitative approach

Cardinal utility describes the qualitative approach

Cardinal utility measurement is objective in nature thus is less practical

Ordinal is a subjective measurement of utility, thus more practical and sensible

Cardinal utility is represented with numbers ending 1-one, 2- two, 3 – three etc

Ordinal utility is essentially represented with numbers ending with 1 ‘–st’, 2 ‘–nd’ and 3 ‘–rd’.

Measurement of utility is done on the basis of utilities

Measurement is done on the basis of rank

For example: Coffee gives Minal 70 utils of satisfaction whereas tea gives only 30utils

Minal admits she gets more satisfaction from coffee as compared to tea. 

Difference Between Cardinal Numbers Examples And Ordinal Numbers Examples

Cardinal number here in this example is 4 that represents the total number of cars. However, if we want to tell about the position of the yellow car, then the ordinal number is 3rd.

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Comparison Chart: Cardinal Numbers v/s Ordinal Numbers

Below is a comparison chart depicting cardinal and ordinal numbers 1 to 20. It is as below:                                          

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Approaches of Measure Utility?

There are basically two approaches to measuring utility, details of which are provided below:

a) Cardinal Utility.

b) Ordinal Utility.

However, remember that these two demand analysis approaches are not in competition with each other, but during the assessment of consumer behaviour, they depict two levels of sophistication. Both cardinal and ordinal utility are crucial to evaluate and analyse consumer demand for a commodity, regardless of the purpose.

Limitations of Cardinal Utility

The concept of cardinal utility is essentially used for a single commodity where utility of a single commodity is regarded independent of the other commodities.

Numbers Larger than 20

Using a hyphen between compound numbers.









Numbers Larger Than 100

Using a hyphen between compound numbers and the word or either the Definite Article a or one for 100.




a/one hundred and thirty-one


Four hundred and forty-nine


two hundred and sixty-five

Numbers Larger Than 1,000

Using a hyphen between compound numbers and the word or either the definite article a or one for 1000.

Separate three digits using a comma (,) → 20,000.




a/one thousand one hundred and thirty-one


Four thousand four hundred and forty-nine


eight thousand two hundred and sixty-five


The Number 0 (Zero)

There are many different terms that are used for the number 0.





single digits

(Codes, telephone numbers) 52340


measurements (temperature)

-10 °C

Ten degrees Celsius below zero


figure 0 in British English*

10 - 10 = 0 (ten minus ten leaves nought)


results in sport

The match ended 3 – 0

The match ended three-nill



40 - 0

thirty - love

* Zero is used in American English.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is Meant by Decimals in Cardinal Numbers?

Answer: Decimals are the mathematical numbers that typically comprises two parts namely, a whole number part and a fractional part of a number isolated by a decimal point. For example, 10.2 is a decimal number. While using the cardinal number for decimals:

2.7 → two point seven

5.36 → five point three six.

2. What is Meant by Roman Numbers?

Answer: Roman numbers are used quite scarcely. Since ancient times, roman numbers are typically used to suffix for the names of kings and queens. Nowadays, these numbers are also frequently used to define dates. While using the ordinal number for roman numbers, we use them in the following manner:

  • King George XI → King George Eleven

  • Louis XIV → Louis the Fourteenth

  • Elisabeth III → Elisabeth the Third

3. What is Meant by Fractions and Decimals?

Answer: Use fractions for the ordinal number for the denominator:

2/4 → two forth

1 3/5 → one and three fifths


1/2 → one half

1/4 → one quarter

1/10 → one-ten