Are there any languages which use different cases of numbers for different uses?

  • In Russian all numerals are declined.
    – Anixx
    Aug 10, 2016 at 6:45
  • @Anixx. Apparently the question (at least as now edited) is not whether the words for numbers are inflectable (unus, unum, uno...) but whether the "numerals" ("1", "2" ....) have different shapes depending on the case. The answer to this question is "no".
    – fdb
    Aug 10, 2016 at 11:43
  • 1
    @fdb, if the question is about changing digit symbols (7), not words ("seven"), then the last edit invalidates three existing answers. I'm not sure it this phenomenon qualifies declension at all, but anyways, the OP should better revert the edit and ask another question. Aug 10, 2016 at 14:29
  • 1
    @bytebuster. I agree. I hate the way that this site allows people to change the question after it has already been answered. It makes everyone look like idiots.
    – fdb
    Aug 10, 2016 at 14:39
  • 2
    @bytebuster and fdb. I'll change the question back. Sorry for the inconvienence. Aug 10, 2016 at 15:04

4 Answers 4


Yes, there are.

Finnish is one of such languages and especially interesting in that in complex numbers, all individual numerals are declined:

Matkust-i-n     kolme-en   maa-han.
travel-IPF-1SG  three-ILL  country-ILL
"I travelled to three countries."

Hän      tarvitse-e  kahdeksa-a-tuhat-ta-kolme-a-kymmen-tä-kuut-ta  euro-a.
he/she   need-3SG    eight-PAR-thousand-three-PAR-ten-PAR-six-PAR   euro-PAR
"He/She needs eight thousand and thirty-six euro."

elo+kuu-n      kahde-nte-na-kymmene-nte-nä-viide-nte-nä  päivä-nä
life+moon-GEN  two-th-ESS-ten-th-ESS-five-th-ESS         day-ESS
"on twenty-fifth of August"

1SG/3SG = first/third person singular
IPF = imperfect tense
ILL = illative case (for movement towards something)
PAR = partitive case (here: to be imagined as "to take some part of all euros there are")
GEN = genitive case (for posssession; here: case for the month that the specified day relates to)
ESS = essive case (for being in a state; here: case for date specification)

  • What about the numerals themselves? Aug 10, 2016 at 11:24
  • @Morella Almand What do you mean? Aug 10, 2016 at 12:17
  • I'm referring to the arabic numerals (1,2...). Are there other symbols used for certain declensions? Aug 10, 2016 at 14:59
  • Oh, so you mean the symbols and not the words. That was very hard to understand, asking it on a language site without making clear you are talking about graphemes (because linguists are usually not so much concerned with written language), plus the word case was in this context easily to be confused with the linguistic term. Well, in this case, I'm not aware of any language or writing system which does that. Aug 10, 2016 at 15:52
  • Okay, thank you. I hadn't made it very clear; sorry about that. Aug 10, 2016 at 16:00

In Sanskrit all numbers are inflected for case. Similarly in Arabic. Greek inflects some of them.

  • But when it's inflection for case, it should be declension not conjugation, right? Aug 8, 2016 at 21:50
  • I changed it to "inflected".
    – fdb
    Aug 8, 2016 at 21:54
  • What about the numerals themselves? Aug 10, 2016 at 11:24
  • @MorellaAlmånd. See my comment on the original question.
    – fdb
    Aug 10, 2016 at 11:43

Many Slavonic languages have complex declension of numerals, both cardinal and ordinal ones. For example, Ukrainian:

Add     lessons      to your        fourty-    two     daily        tasks
Додай   уроки        до своїх       сорока     двох    щоденних     справ
add+IMP lessons+ACC  to your+PL+GEN fourty+DAT two+DAT daily+PL+GEN task+PL+GEN

IMP = imperative mood
PL = plural
GEN = Genitive case
DAT = Dative case
ACC = Accusative case

Note that fourty-two even declines into the different case (Dative) than the linked NP (daily tasks).

  • What about the numerals themselves? Aug 10, 2016 at 11:25
  • @MorellaAlmånd, in Ukrainian, numerals with no linked N/NP have little use. They can act as contractions (e.g., "call me after five" or "you must arrive by five", omitting "o'clock"), and yes, "after" governs for Genitive case, "by" governs for Instrumental, so "five" declines. Aug 10, 2016 at 14:22

Numerals were declined in Proto-indoeuropean heavily. The declensions are preserved very well in Sanskrit and to a certain measure in Ancient Greek as well as most contemporary Slavic languages or Lithuanian.

e.g. numeral "five" in Sanskrit, Czech and Lithuanian

nom.: pañca - pět - penki
gen.: pañcānām - pěti - penkių
dat.: pañcabhyaḥ - pěti - penkiems

Many IE languages still preserve some remains of declensions of the most basic numerals like one,two or three (e.g. in Romance languages, they still distinguish gender if not case itself).

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