In phrases like page twenty-five, year nineteen ninety-nine, Half Life Two or article seven three zero zero one, the number is in cardinal form, but it doesn't refer to the amount of the head noun. It is used to identify a specific instance of an entity, but unlike ordinal numbers it does not always necessarily order those instances (article 73001 doesn't make one think of the 73001st article in a line of articles).

Is there a linguistic term for these numbers?

  • 1
    "ordinal" -----
    – Greg Lee
    Jan 29, 2020 at 9:00

2 Answers 2


It is a nominal number. It is like a cardinal in writing, but doesn't really express a number. It is kind of like an ordinal in some contexts. For example, 2020 says "the 2020th year after the Birth of Jesus or in the Common Era". We can also start the calendar from 1970.

  • +1. In Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, and other Slavic languages, the year is always named with an ordinal number.
    – Yellow Sky
    Feb 5, 2020 at 23:20

"Page 10 of this book" equals the "tenth page of this book". Both expressions express quantity (differently from your title) anchored to a specific reference point given by the context. If I get your question right, you are asking whether languages express chronological vs. total counting differently (as in "the third book of this saga" vs. "the third and last book I would like to tell you about is...")

  • A book's Page 10 is not necessarily its 10th page. Before it, there might be unnumbered pages, and/or pages labelled in some other system (e.g. with Roman numerals), before pp.1-9.
    – Rosie F
    Feb 3, 2020 at 16:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.