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## Large–And Extra-Large–French NumbersPosted by Elizabeth Schmermund on Aug 15, 2016 in Vocabulary

Some of the most popular posts on this site are those that involve French numbers. There is good reason for this–French numbers are known for being somewhat tricky. In what other language, for example, would you have to say “four twenties [and] ten” to mean ninety? (In French, ninety is quatre-vingt-dix.)

If you are interested in learning to count to 1,000 in French, check out this Transparent Language post here.

The word for one thousand in French is mille. However, please note that, unlike in English, you would never say un mille (one thousand). Rather, mille means “one thousand” without the special designator of “one.” This is the same as one hundred, which is only cent–and never un cent. (After one hundred or one thousand, just add the regular number in front as normal: deux cent/mille, trois cent/mille, quatre cent/mille, etc.) Also, note that mille never is written as a plural with an “s”–however, just to make French numbers a little more confusing, cent is!

Above thousands, we have:

un million (one million)

un milliard (one billion)

un billion (one trillion)

As you notice, these large numbers can be tricky because un billion in French is a faux ami, meaning that it does not mean that it is one billion in English; rather it is equal to one trillion. Unlike cent and mille, these larger numbers also can use “un.” Also, you add a silent s to large numbers over one million. For example, you would say: un million, but deux millions, or un milliard but cinq milliards.

Also, please note that the French do not use commas to separate decimals in large numbers–instead they use periods. Thus, 1,000,000 (un million) would be written in French as 1.000.000. This can be very confusing for those who might read this as a much smaller number! (For small numbers, it’s the exact opposite: 3.25 in English would be 3,25 in French.)

Finally, are you interested in learning about really large numbers?

Un gogol in French is the equivalent of the English googol, which is 10 to the power of 100. While a gogoplex is the equivalent of a googleplex, or  10 to the power of a googol. These numbers are so large that they are impossible to imagine!

Finally, un zillion or une foultitude can be used to describe a “crazy” high number. Zillion, of course, is imported into French from the English and is not an actual number but rather a very large number in the abstract. While you may not often get the chance to use these extra large numbers in daily conversation, who knows, maybe these large sums will come up if you win the lottery one day! Here’s to hoping–et bonne chance!

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