Cardinal, Ordinal, and Nominal Numbers

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

A cardinal number tells "how many." Cardinal numbers are also known as "counting numbers," because they show quantity.

Here are some examples using cardinal numbers:

  • 8 puppies
  • 14 friends

Ordinal numbers tell the order of things in a set—first, second, third, etc. Ordinal numbers do not show quantity. They only show rank or position.

Here are some examples using ordinal numbers:

  • 3rd fastest
  • 6th in line

A nominal number names something—a telephone number, a player on a team. Nominal numbers do not show quantity or rank. They are used only to identify something.

Here are some examples using nominal numbers:

  • jersey number 4
  • zip code 02116
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