Numbers in Bulgarian

11.06.2012 § 5 Comments

Bulgaria uses the Indo-Arabic numeral system known around the world.

We begin, as always, counting from 1 to 10.

  1. Едно (ednó)
  2. Две (dve)
  3. Три (tri)
  4. Четири (chét’ri)
  5. Пет (pet)
  6. Шест (shes‘)
  7. Седем (sédem)
  8. Осем (ósem)
  9. Девет (dévet)
  10. Десет (déset)

For the numbers 11-19, we add ten to what we had above, which in Bulgarian is accomplished with the suffix -надесет (-nádeset, literally “above ten”).

  • eдинадесет (11) – edináyse
  • дванадесет (12) – dvanáyse
  • тринадесет (13) – trináyse
  • четиринадесет (14) – chet’rináyse
  • петнадесет (15) – petnáyse
  • шестнадесет (16) – shesnáyse
  • седемнадесет (17) – sedemnáyse
  • осемнадесет (18) – osemnáyse
  • деветнадесет (19) – devetnáyse

All roots but the first two are exactly the same as the single digits. For 11, we write “edinadeset” instead of “ednonadeset*” and for 12, we write “dvanadeset” instead of “dvenadeset*”.

Since saying “something-nadeset” is a bit of a mouthful, pronunciation takes a huge shortcut on the suffix, changing it to “-nayset” or even “-nayse“. This will be a common deviation between written and spoken numbers in Bulgarian.

To reach twenty, we say “two tens”. Десет (“deset”) means “ten”, and the word for “two” we used in the pre-teens was два (“dva”), making twenty двадесет (dvádeset). Below are the tens:

  • десет (10) – déset
  • двадесет (20) – dváyse
  • тридесет (30) – tríyse
  • четиридесет (40) – chetír’se
  • петдесет (50) – pedesé
  • шестдесет (60) – sheysé
  • седемдесет (70) – sedemdesé
  • осемдесет (80) – osemdesé
  • деветдесет (90) – devedesé

Another pronunciation deviation applies here, shortening “-deset” to “-yse” or “-dese“.

We get to the hundreds. The word for “one hundred” is сто (“sto“). You will see a variant of it in every one of the following. 200 and 300 follow one formation pattern (adding -sta) while 400-900 follow another (adding -stotin). By the way, the word стотинка (“stotinka“) means “one hundredth” and refers to the Bulgarian cent, 1/100 of the Lev.

  • сто
  • двеста
  • триста
  • четиристотин
  • петстотин
  • шестстотин
  • седемстотин
  • осемстотин
  • деветстотин

The word for “one thousand” is хиляда (“hilyáda”), and its plural, хиляди (“hílyadi”) can be put after any of the numbers discussed above to denote that many thousands, e.g. петнадесет хиляди (“petnáyse hílyadi“, fifteen thousand).

Now, how do we combine these into more complex numbers? This is, thankfully, very simple: we start with the most significant register (thousands, then hundreds, then tens, then units), imagining we’re enumerating a list, adding an “and” before the last element in the list.
If all of them are present, for instance in the number 1876, the year of the April uprising, this looks like so:
1876: хиляда (1000) осемстотин (800) седемдесет (70) и (and) шест (6).
We can skip any of these and apply the same rule:
2012: две хиляди (2000) и (and) дванадесет (12).
This works for two-digit numbers:
54: петдесет (50) и (and) четири (4)
The one exception that requires adding a second “and” occurs when there are thousands, tens and units but no hundreds.
1063: хиляда (1000) и (and) шестдесет (60) и (and) три (3)
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§ 5 Responses to Numbers in Bulgarian

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi there, I’m wondering for a number like 1800, do you need the conjunction and? Is it хиляда (1000) осемстотин (800), or хиляда (1000) и осемстотин (800)? Thank you

    • vpandeliev says:

      Hello!
      Generally, you need a conjunction (и) before the last number in the list AND if you’re skipping a register.

      E.g.,
      1800 = хиляда и осемстотин
      1803 = хиляда осемстотин и три
      1063 = хиляда и шестдесет и три (note two conjunctions here)
      1003 = хиляда и три
      1863 = хиляда осемстотин шестдесет и три

      • O says:

        Thank you for your prompt reply and detailed explanation. Sorry, I’ve got more questions, if you don’t mind.

        1. For 1063, the reason you put a conjunction after хиляда is because the hundred register is skipped?
        2. Should 20,000 use двайсет or двадесет?
        3. Should 101,000 be сто и едно хиляди or сто и хиляда?

      • vpandeliev says:

        1. Yes. Note that you may not hear the first conjunction in speech.
        2. In writing, always двадесет. Двайсет is an attempt to capture in spelling how this number might sound if you’re listening to a Bulgarian speaker.
        3. Great question! Typically you construct the number of thousands together, then add хиляди. Also note that because the word “thousand/хиляда“ is feminine gender in Bulgarian, you’d have to use the feminine version of “one”, which is една. 101,000 = сто и една хиляди.

  • […] hope your counting in Bulgarian is significantly up to snuff to tackle the thorny issue of ordinal numbers (“first”, […]

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