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Ultimate Guide to Romanian Numbers: Phone Numbers and More

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It’s a numbers game out there.

No matter what you say in Romanian, sooner or later you’re going to run into a handful of Romanian numbers. Phone numbers, prices, ages… How are you going to react?

Are you going to freeze up and sheepishly say the number in English with a Romanian accent? (I’ve seen it happen!)

Or are you going to smoothly and serenely rattle off a tongue twister like șapte sute douăzeci și cinci (seven-hundred and twenty-five)?

It sounds beautiful—and in this article, we’ll break down how these numbers are formed and how you can use them correctly every single time.

Table of Contents

  1. How Romanian Got its Numbers
  2. The Cardinal Numbers
  3. The Ordinal Numbers
  4. Phone Numbers
  5. Conclusion: How RomanianPod101 Can Help You Master Romanian

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1. How Romanian Got its Numbers

Romanian Numbers

Language enthusiasts know that Romanian is not the “purest” of the Romance languages. Quite a few words in everyday life have been borrowed from Slavic or other neighboring languages of the area. Numbers, though—numbers are Latin through and through.

Even substantial sound changes like decemzece and quattuorpatru fit right into the models of how we know languages evolve. And by the way, all these numbers are related to the English numerals as well, since they all end up coming from Proto-Indo-European, spoken more than 3,000 years ago!


2. The Cardinal Numbers

Calculator and Change

English Romanian
Zero zero
One unu
Two doi
Three trei
Four patru
Five cinci
Six șase
Seven șapte
Eight opt
Nine nouă
Ten zece

One of the most obvious features of Romanian when comparing it to other languages is its noun gender. Romanian nouns have one of three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. Neuter nouns are interesting because they act masculine in the singular form, and feminine in the plural.

For our purposes in this article, we’ll just mention that unu and doi are the masculine forms of those numbers. The feminine forms are una and două, respectively. And above two, you don’t need to worry about that sort of declension!

When it comes to talking about zero, things work exactly like in English. We say “one degree” and “zero degrees,” and in Romanian, the plural is obligatory as well: un grad, zero grade.

Let’s move on to eleven through nineteen. If you’ve learned other European languages before, get ready for a little surprise…

English Formal Romanian Informal Romanian
Eleven unsprezece unșpe
Twelve doisprezece doișpe
Thirteen treisprezece treișpe
Fourteen paisprezece paișpe
Fifteen cincisprezece cinșpe
Sixteen șaisprezece șaișpe
Seventeen șaptesprezece șapteșpe
Eighteen optsprezece optișpe
Nineteen nouăsprezece nouășpe

They’re all regular! None of this eleven, twelve nonsense that exists in all the other European languages. Each of these comes from the base number, the word spre meaning “toward” (it used to mean “over,” which makes more sense), and zece meaning “ten.”

Man Expressing Relief

And what’s the deal with that third column? Well, you may have already noticed that sprezece is a bit of a mouthful. So in colloquial speech, you’ll very often just hear that ending as șpe. You wouldn’t want to write it in anything formal, and you might get made fun of by stuck-up grammarians, but in reality, everybody uses these short forms.

Take another look at that word for “eighteen.” That’s actually the word in Romanian with the most consonants all in one row: ptspr. Because of that inconvenience, you’ll often hear the variant optisprezece, which makes things easier by adding a vowel. Again, that’s not considered correct enough to write down.

After nineteen, things keep getting easier. We take the root number and stick on zeci, the plural of zece.

So “twenty” is douăzeci, made from două + zeci. “Forty” is patru + zeci on the same principle. The only strangeness is “sixty,” which doesn’t follow the pattern exactly. The regular form șasezeci is nowhere to be found, and instead șaizeci is what comes up.

For a construction like “twenty-five,” the phrasing is literally “twenty and five”: douăzeci și cinci. Nothing to it!

These words also have a simplified pronunciation: the whole zeci bit contracts to ș or zeș, so that “fifty-one” comes out to cincizeci și unu → cinzeșunu.

Also, when we count things after twenty, we add the word de meaning “of.” So we literally have “twenty of something” instead of “twenty somethings.” Observe:

  • Ali Baba Şi Cei Patruzeci De Hoţi
    Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves (Ali Baba and The Forty of Thieves)

Burglar Breaking into House

Once we get above ninety-nine, the sky’s the limit. Just like in English, we simply say each part of the number: so 365 is trei sute șaizeci și cinci, or literally “three hundreds sixty and five.”

And yes, I said “hundreds.” “Hundred” is sută, and the plural is sute, which is obligatory.

There’s one last thing to be appreciative of: In other Romance languages, the word for 1000 is something like mil, which is confusing for an English speaker, who thinks “million.” In Romanian, 1000 is simply mie, which is far enough away that there’s no reason to get confused!


3. The Ordinal Numbers

So we’ve got a good handle on how to count, and how to count things, in Romanian. What about listing things?

That’s where ordinal numbers come in, and they’re a total cinch.

The word for “first” in Romanian is the only irregular one; it’s primul for masculine and prima for feminine. All ordinal numbers have regular masculine and feminine variants, since what you’re actually saying is “the first [something].”

So for a masculine ordinal, you add -lea to the base number word. For a feminine ordinal, you just add -a.

“The third” becomes al treilea / a treia. Pretty cool, right? Unfortunately, it’s not quite as regular as that since there are a couple of vowel deletions and additions. Here’s a chart for you:

English Romanian (masculine / feminine)
The first primul / prima
The second al doilea / a doua
The third al treilea / a treia
The fourth al patrulea / a patra
The fifth al cincilea / a cincea
The sixth al șaselea / a șasea
The seventh al șaptelea / a șaptea
The eighth al optulea / a opta
The ninth al nouălea / a noua
The tenth al zecelea / a zecea

Have a look at that last one. Anything ending in -zece is going to follow the same pattern as zece itself. So all the numbers from eleven to nineteen (and 111 - 119, 211 - 219, etc) have the same endings.

  • al doisprezecelea / a douăsprezecea
    The twelfth (masculine / feminine)

Once we get to twenty, a new pattern emerges. As we already know, multiples of ten end in -zeci. This will regularly turn to ­-zecilea (masculine) and -zecea (feminine).

So we’d eventually get to al treizecilea / a treizecea meaning “the thirtieth” and al cincizecilea / a cincizecea meaning “the fiftieth.”

Further, when we’re not counting even multiples of ten, we only modify the very last digit of the number. Just like in English, we don’t say “the fortiethfifth.” We say “the forty-fifth,” which in Romanian is al patruzeci și cincilea / a patruzeci și cincea.

With this information, you should be able to count pretty much anything. Even if you can’t remember the last time you mentioned “the seventy-seventh” of something, you now know the rules behind forming them!

There’s one last thing to consider: reversed forms.

When we talk about floors in a building, we switch the order like so:

  • etajul al cincilea
    the fifth floor (literally the floor the fifth)

Skyscraper Against Blue Sky

The same switcheroo happens for certain historical figures:

It happens in a few more places, but these are the most common, by far. When you go to a museum and the exhibit for Carol the First is on the sixth floor, you’ll know how to describe it.


4. Phone Numbers

Let’s take a few moments to look at one of the most common uses of numbers in daily Romanian life: the telephone. Romania’s country code is +40, read as plus patru zero.

For a long time, international calls could not be made out of Romania unless you were in government. In the 1990s, things started opening up, but there was still a complicated system for phone numbers, where some counties got longer and shorter numbers depending on their population.

Now, though, everyone’s number is nine digits long, plus a mandatory zero at the beginning. Don’t forget it! To ask for someone’s number, simply say:

  • Îmi puteți da numărul de telefon?
    Can you give me your phone number?

Man Asking Woman for Phone Number


5. Conclusion: How RomanianPod101 Can Help You Master Romanian

Learning to say numbers fluently in a foreign language sometimes feels like a thankless task. After all, when was the last time you thought a foreign speaker of your language did a particularly good job with numbers?

That ability just slips right by undetected.

But the good news is that, for a language with regular numbers like Romanian, you don’t need to spend a ton of time on it. Once you learn the base numbers and the rules for forming the other numbers, all you need is just a little bit of deliberate practice.

And then before you know it, you’ll be a numbers whiz in any language you want.

What did you think about counting and numbers in Romanian? Are there some you’re still struggling with? Let us know in the comments!

Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a HubSpot certified content strategist, copywriter and polyglot who works with language learning companies. He helps companies attract sales using content strategy, copywriting, blogging, email marketing & more.

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How to Start Thinking in Romanian

Learn 4 tools and techniques to stop translating in your head and start thinking in Romanian

Going through Romanian lessons is enough to get by and learn the basics of Romanian, but to truly become fluent you need to be able to think in Romanian. This will allow you to have conversations with ease, read smoothly, and comprehensively understand natives. To do this, you need to go beyond just completing daily or weekly lessons.

We naturally translate in our heads because it’s viewed as the easiest way to learn the definitions needed when learning a language. This way of learning can actually hinder your skills and fluency later on. If your brain has to make neural connections between the word you’re learning, what it means in your native tongue, and the physical object the connection will not be nearly as strong. When you bypass the original translation between Romanian and your native language then there is a more basic and strong connection between just the Romanian vocabulary word and the tangible object.

start thinking in Romanian

In this blog post, you will learn the 4 important techniques to easily and naturally begin to speculate about the daily occurrences in your life. The best part is all of these techniques are supported and can be achieved through RomanianPod101.com.

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1. Surround yourself with Romanian

Surround Yourself

By surrounding yourself with Romanian constantly you will completely immerse yourself in the language. Without realizing it you’ll be learning pronunciation, sentence structures, grammar, and new vocabulary. You can play music in the background while you’re cooking or have a Romanian radio station on while you study. Immersion is a key factor with this learning process because it is one of the easiest things to do, but very effective. Even if you are not giving the program your full attention you will be learning.

One great feature of RomanianPod101.com is the endless podcasts that are available to you. You can even download and listen to them on the go. These podcasts are interesting and are perfect for the intention of immersion, they are easy to listen to as background noise and are interesting enough to give your full attention. Many of them contain stories that you follow as you go through the lessons which push you to keep going.

2. Learn through observation
learn through observation

Learning through observation is the most natural way to learn. Observation is how we all learned our native languages as infants and it’s a wonder why we stop learning this way. If you have patience and learn through observation then Romanian words will have their own meanings rather than meanings in reference to your native language. Ideally, you should skip the bilingual dictionary and just buy a dictionary in Romanian.

RomanianPod101.com also offers the materials to learn this way. We have numerous video lessons which present situational usage of each word or phrase instead of just a direct translation. This holds true for many of our videos and how we teach Romanian.

3. Speak out loud to yourself
talk to yourself

Speaking to yourself in Romanian not only gets you in the mindset of Romanian, but also makes you listen to how you speak. It forces you to correct any errors with pronunciation and makes it easy to spot grammar mistakes. When you speak out loud talk about what you did that day and what you plan to do the next day. Your goal is to be the most comfortable speaking out loud and to easily create sentences. Once you feel comfortable talking to yourself start consciously thinking in your head about your daily activities and what is going on around you throughout the day.

With RomanianPod101.com you start speaking right away, not only this, but they have you repeat words and conversations after a native Romanian speaker. This makes your pronunciation very accurate! With this help, you are on the fast path to making clear and complex sentences and then actively thinking about your day.

4. Practice daily

If you don’t practice daily then your progress will be greatly slowed. Many people are tempted to take the 20-30 minutes they should be practicing a day and practice 120 in one day and skip the other days. This isn’t nearly as effective because everyday you practice you are reinforcing the skills and knowledge you have learned. If you practice all in one day you don’t retain the information because the brain can realistically only focus for 30 minutes at most. If you’re studying for 120 minutes on the same subject little of the information will be absorbed. Studying everyday allows you to review material that you went over previous days and absorb a small amount of information at a time.

It’s tough to find motivation to study everyday, but RomanianPod101.com can help. It’s easy to stay motivated with RomanianPod101.com because we give you a set learning path, with this path we show how much progress you’ve made. This makes you stick to your goals and keep going!

Conclusion

Following the steps and having patience is the hardest part to achieving your goals, it’s not easy learning a new language. You are essentially teaching your brain to categorize the world in a completely new way. Stick with it and you can do it just remember the 4 tools I taught you today! With them, conversations, reading, and understanding will become much easier. The most important thing to remember is to use the tools that RomanianPod101.com provides and you will be on your way to being fluent!

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4 Reasons Why Romanian Slang Words Will Make You Fluent

Learn 4 honest reasons you need Romanian slang words and why they are so vital to truly learning and mastering the language.

Teachers may normally cringe at the thought of their students learning Romanian slang words. After all, slang words and phrases are typically defined as being grammatically incorrect. So why would your teacher want you to spend time learning the “wrong way” to speak Romanian? Here are 4 of the top reasons why you should study slang words and expressions when learning Romanian or any new language.

reasons to learn romanian slang words

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1. Native Speakers Use Slang Expressions in Everyday Conversation

If you are going to study a foreign language and plan to use it to speak with native speakers, then you have to learn slang words and expressions. Otherwise, just using formal expressions and grammar may alienate you from native speakers and make it more difficult to establish a real connection. So it is best to at least learn some common slang words and expressions if you’re planning to meet or speak socially with someone.

2. Slang Words Are Used All Throughout Romanian Culture

If you turn on any popular Romanian TV show, listen to any song, or watch any movie, you are quickly going to see the value of learning Romanian slang phrases. Just like everyday conversations between native speakers, Romanian culture is filled with slang phrases and expressions. Without at least some knowledge of the more common slang phrases, popular culture and most conversations will be very confusing and potentially alienating.

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3. Slang Expressions Help You Better Express Your True Thoughts and Feelings

Only relying on formal grammar and vocabulary is very limiting, especially in social situations. Just like in your native language, using the appropriate Romanian slang words can help you express a broader range of emotions, thoughts, and feelings.

4. Proper Use of Slang Makes You Sound More Natural

We’ve all met foreigners who technically used formal language perfectly but still sounded odd and well….foreign. But when you use the right slang words and expressions, you will sound more natural and like a true native speaker. If you notice, even most politicians include a sprinkling of slang expressions and words throughout their speeches to help them sound more natural and to better connect with the audience.

The Dark Side of Slang Expressions

Learning Romanian slang words can indeed help you sound more natural, better understand the people and culture, and make integration much easier. However, there is a dark side: using the wrong slang expressions can also make you look foolish, uneducated, and potentially disrespectful.

But how do you know which slang words or phrases to use and when?

The truth is that you can’t learn the most modern and appropriate slang words in textbooks or formal classroom settings. By the time the information gets incorporated into a formal curriculum, it’s already outdated and no longer in use by actual Romanian people. And while you can learn current slang expressions from Romanian TV shows, movies, songs, and games, you may not understand the context. If that happens, you may use the right Romanian slang words but in the wrong situation and still look like a fool or possibly even offend someone.

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So where can you learn current slang expressions and the right context in which to use them?

At RomanianPod101, native speaking instructors create audio and video lessons that can include slang expressions and words. Our instructors provide context and examples for all the Romanian slang words used in any lesson to make sure students understand the right time and place to use them.

Romanian slang words and expressions may be grammatically incorrect but they are vital to truly understanding and immersing yourself in the culture. In fact, it will be very difficult to fully understand any movie, TV show, song, game, or even 1-on-1 conversation without knowing a few of the more common slang expressions.

However, it is important to learn the proper context and use of even popular slang expressions or you may come across as confusing, disrespectful, or uneducated.
At RomanianPod101, you’ll learn how to use slang phrases and words to draw the right attention and avoid these problems.

Don’t forget to sign up for a Free Lifetime Account on RomanianPod101.com to access tons of FREE lessons and features to become fluent in Romanian!

How to Learn Romanian in Your Car?

How to Learn Romanian in Your Car? Learn language in car

Stuck in traffic? Losing time in your car? Have you ever felt that in all this wasted time, you could have watched the 750 episodes of One Piece, finished the last Super Mario ten times, or even better…you could have learned Romanian? Between family, friends and work, in addition to this time-consuming commute, it can become difficult to find time to properly learn Romanian.

Fortunately, every problem has a solution, and what could be a better solution than turning that commute time into learning time? Stop passing the time mindlessly listening to the radio and try some of our best tips for mastering Romanian in your car!

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You can learn Romanian in your car, hands free
While driving, it’s important that you keep your focus on the road, so this is why our top tips won’t require you to use your hands!

Listening to Romanian audio content in the car is a good way to learn
This is because it is a fun and efficient way to learn. With RomanianPod101.com podcasts, you will be able to discover Romanian culture through topics about everyday life. Instead of the radio, listen to a Romanian podcast adapted to your level, from Absolute Beginner to Advanced, and you will make progress sooner that you would expect!

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You can listen to Romanian music in the car
Did you know that you can learn Romanian by singing while driving? Listen to songs from cartoon or drama and try to identify some words you learned.

Challenge yourself! Use the Romanian you’ve studied up to this point and see how much you understand! Making the jump to real-life Romanian is a scary one, but friendly children’s songs are a great place to start!

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You can learn alone in your car
When you’re driving alone, you can be as loud as you want – there is nothing better for remembering your Romanian lessons than repeating loudly, again and again. Next time you see a driver who seems to be talking alone, you will know he or she is just learning Romanian!

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You can learn through repetition with your passengers
If there are passengers in the car, it can be more stimulating to learn together. You can set a role play with Romanian dialogues. With RomanianPod101.com, you can download all the lessons transcript including the dialogues, as a PDF. Print it out and have some fun speaking in Romanian!

One of the passengers can answer the quiz available on each of our lessons, while another can correct that person. Listening to someone at a more advanced level of Romanian or a better accent is positive and helps you improve.

You can learn Romanian offline
Do you have a poor connection or are unable to use the Internet? It’s not a problem for learning Romanian! Before you start your commute, use our App to download the lessons you want to study and the podcast you want to listen to in your car, and you will be able to enjoy your lessons offline. Entering a tunnel won’t be a problem anymore. What a pleasure to listen to audio content without having the host freezing every 5 seconds!

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You can learn every day at your own pace
One of the best approaches for learning a language is little by little and often. It’s not efficient to take in a huge amount of information at one time. What you need is to study on a regular basis – a little bit of Romanian every day. You commute several days a week, and that is all time you can take advantage of!

You have the freedom to choose the lessons and podcasts you want to focus on, at your own rhythm. You may want to do a little revision or discover how to talk about a new topic. And if you’re wondering what to learn next, you can use the new Learning Paths, which is our customized pathway feature that gives you a step-by-step way to learn Romanian without getting lost!

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If you don’t have a car and commute by another method, these tips are still valid! Learning Romanian is no longer limited to the classroom or your house; there are so many benefits to learning in your car or elsewhere. Reaching a conversational level will take you less time than you could ever have imagined! Don’t forget to sign up for your Free Lifetime Account and enjoy our content!