Irish Lesson 43

The numbering system in Irish differentiates among simple cardinals (either stand-alone numbers, such as occur in mathematics, or numbers giving the quantity of some object) and ordinals, which put objects in some order. This will become clear when you study this lesson.


These numbers are used in counting, telling time, and when the noun to which they refer goes before them.

  1. a haon
  2. a dó
  3. a trí
  4. a ceathair
  5. a cúig
  6. a sé
  7. a seacht
  8. a hocht
  9. a naoi
  10. a deich
  11. a haon déag
  12. a dó dhéag
  13. a trí déag
  14. a ceathair déag
  15. a cúig déag
  16. a sé déag
  17. a seacht déag
  18. a hocht déag
  19. a naoi déag
  20. fiche

Examples of use:

  • Counting to start a race: a haon, a dó, a trí.
  • Serially numbered objects: seomra a seacht, bad a sé deag.
  • Arithmetical work: a trí agus a naoi, sin é a dó dheag.
  • Giving quantities of some object, with the number preceding the noun:

aon bhó amháin, one cow

dhá bhó, two cows

trí bhó

ceithre bhó

cúig bhó

sé bhó

seacht mbó

ocht mbó

naoi mbó

deich mbó

aon bhó dhéag

dhá bhó dhéag

trí bhó dhéag

ceithre bhó dhéag

cúig bhó dhéag

sé bhó dhéag

seacht mbó dhéag

ocht mbó dhéag

naoi mbó dhéag

fiche bó

In this use, as you can see, aon, one, aspirates, “two” becomes “dhá” and aspirates, “four” has changed slightly, and from 11 on, there is a “dheag”, similar to English “teen”, added on. From 1 to 6, the number causes aspiration (where possible), and from 7 to 10, the number eclipses (where possible).

It all sounds complicated, but if you will practice on the lists above, and then try to use the numbers several times a day, say in counting or in reading license plates, one numeral at a time, you will be pleasantly surprised at your facility.

Now for a simpler and often-used help: telling time.

  1. one o’clock – Tá sé a haon a chlog
  2. two o’clock – Tá sé a dó a chlog
  3. three o’clock – Tá sé a trí a chlog
  4. four o’clock – Tá sé a ceathair a chlog
  5. five o’clock – Tá sé a cúig a chlog
  6. six o’clock – Tá sé a sé a chlog
  7. seven o’clock – Tá sé a seacht a chlog
  8. eight o’clock – Tá sé a hocht a chlog
  9. nine o’clock – Tá sé a naoi a chlog
  10. ten o’clock – Tá sé a deich a chlog
  11. eleven o’clock – Tá sé a haon déag a chlog
  12. twelve o’clock – Tá sé a dó dhéag a chlog

What time is it? Cén t-am é?

a good morning, maidin mhaith

good night, oíche mhaith

mid-day, meán lae

mid-night, meán oíche

in the morning, ar maidin

in the afternoon/evening, um tráthnóna

at night, san oíche

Days of the week

Monday, An Luan

On Monday, Dé Luain

Tuesday, An Mháirt

On Tuesday, Dé Mháirt

Wednesday, An Chéadaoin

On Wednesday, Dé Chéadaoin

Thursday, An Déardaoin

On Thursday

Friday, An Aoine

On Friday, Dé Aoine

Saturday, An Satharn

On Saturday, Dé Sathairn

Sunday, An Domhnach (DOW-nahk*)

On Sunday, Dé Domhnaigh (DOW-nee)

©1998 The Irish People

Irish Lesson 42 | Irish Lesson 44

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