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Explanations about the declension of numerals in Slovak

Numerals in Slovak, like in other Slavic languages, are a complex topic: they are declined, sometimes agree in gender, and knowing which case must follow a numeral is not always simple. Textbooks rarely have detailed explanations about this, so here is everything I could find about the expression of numbers in Slovak and their declension.

See also this tool which automatically declines numerals.

Cardinal numerals

Simple numerals

The first numeral, 1, is declined pretty much like an adjective.

Number Singular Plural
Gender Masculine Neuter Feminine Masculine Neuter Feminine
Animate Inanimate Animate Inanimate
Nominative jeden jedno jedna jedni jedny
Genitive jedného jednej jedných
Dative jednému jednej jedným
Accusative jedného jeden jedno jednu jedných jedny
Locative jednom jednej jedných
Instrumental jedným jednou jednými

The fact that 1 has a plural can be surprising, but it is actually used with pluralia tantum (see “Collective numerals”) and to mean “some, a few”.

2 has three different forms in the nominative and accusative: one for masculine animate, one for masculine inanimate and one for both neuter and feminine. The two possible instrumental forms are interchangeable. Note that oba and obidva (both) are declined like dva.

Case Masculine Neuter Feminine
Animate Inanimate
Nominative dvaja dva dve
Genitive dvoch
Dative dvom
Accusative dvoch dva dve
Locative dvoch
Instrumental dvoma / dvomi

3 and 4 have similar declensions: the only gender distinction is between masculine animate and the rest. Here too, the two instrumental forms for 3 are interchangeable.

Case Masculine animate Other
Nominative traja tri
Genitive troch
Dative trom
Accusative troch tri
Locative troch
Instrumental troma / tromi
Case Masculine animate Other
Nominative štyria štyri
Genitive štyroch
Dative štyrom
Accusative štyroch štyri
Locative štyroch
Instrumental štyrmi

The numerals from 5 to 20, as well as the multiples of ten up to 90, are declined in the same way. The nominative masculine animate form is facultative. The accusative is not indicated in the table below because it is either identical to the genitive (masculine animate) or the nominative (other genders).

Pay attention to a few details:

Case Nominative Genitive / Locative Dative Instrumental
All Masculine animate
5 päť piati piatich piatim piatimi
6 šesť šiesti šiestich šiestim šiestimi
7 sedem sedmi sedmich sedmim sedmimi
8 osem ôsmi ôsmich ôsmim ôsmimi
9 deväť deviati deviatich deviatim deviatimi
10 desať desiati desiatich desiatim desiatimi
11 jedenásť jedenásti jedenástich jedenástim jedenástimi
12 dvanásť dvanásti dvanástich dvanástim dvanástimi
13 trinásť trinásti trinástich trinástim trinástimi
14 štrnásť štrnásti štrnástich štrnástim štrnástimi
15 pätnásť pätnásti pätnástich pätnástim pätnástimi
16 šestnásť šestnásti šestnástich šestnástim šestnástimi
17 sedemnásť sedemnásti sedemnástich sedemnástim sedemnástimi
18 osemnásť osemnásti osemnástich osemnástim osemnástimi
19 devätnásť devätnásti devätnástich devätnástim devätnástimi
20 dvadsať dvadsiati dvadsiatich dvadsiatim dvadsiatimi
30 tridsať tridsiati tridsiatich tridsiatim tridsiatimi
40 štyridsať štyridsiati štyridsiatich štyridsiatim štyridsiatimi
50 päťdesiať päťdesiati päťdesiatich päťdesiatim päťdesiatimi
60 šesťdesiať šesťdesiati šesťdesiatich šesťdesiatim šesťdesiatimi
70 sedemdesiať sedemdesiati sedemdesiatich sedemdesiatim sedemdesiatimi
80 osemdesiať osemdesiati osemdesiatich osemdesiatim osemdesiatimi
90 deväťdesiať deväťdesiati deväťdesiatich deväťdesiatim deväťdesiatimi

The bigger numbers are easier: the numeral sto (100) is not declined. Tisíc (1,000) can be either declined like päť or, usually, not be declined.

Milión (1,000,000), miliarda (1,000,000,000) and nula (0) are actually nouns and are declined as such.

Compound numerals

To form numers 21…29, 31…39, etc., up to 99, you just have to put the multiple of ten and the unit next to each other. For numerals ending in 2, the form dve is not used (dva is used for all genders).

Numerals ending in -jeden (21, 31, etc.) are not declined. For other numerals, there are two possibilities:

For instance, 56 can be either päťdesiatšesť in all cases or päťdesiati šiesti (masculine animate nominative — optional), päťdesiatich šiestich (genitive, locative, masculine animate accusative), päťdesiatim šiestim (dative), päťdesiatimi šiestimi (instrumental).

Hundreds are formed as follows: sto, dvesto, tristo, … deväťsto.

Thousands are: tisíc, dvetisíc, tritisíc, … deväťtisíc.

Hundreds and thousands are not declined. They are written together with the remainder of the number (unless it is declined). Note that dve- is used for 200 and 2,000.

Milión (million) and miliarda (billion) are nouns, so their case depends on the previous numeral (see “Case after a numeral”). “One million” and “one billion” are translate as jeden milión and jedna miliarda (“one” is expressed just like in English).

Here is an example of a random huge numeral (413,697,804,256) declined in all cases:

Nominative štyristotrinásť miliárd šesťstodeväťdesiatsedem miliónov osemstoštyritisícdvestopäťdesiatšesť
Genitive štyristo trinástich miliárd šesťsto deväťdesiatich siedmich miliónov osemstoštyritisícdvesto päťdesiatich šiestich
Dative štyristo trinástim miliardám šesťsto deväťdesiatim siedmim miliónom osemstoštyritisícdvesto päťdesiatim šiestim
Accusative = N / G
Locative štyristo trinástich miliardách šesťsto deväťdesiatich siedmich miliónoch osemstoštyritisícdvesto päťdesiatich šiestich
Instrumental štyristo trinástimi miliardami šesťsto deväťdesiatimi siedmimi miliónmi osemstoštyritisícdvesto päťdesiatimi šiestimi

Or, if multiples of tens and units are not declined, then only milión and miliarda change:

Nominative štyristotrinásť miliárd šesťstodeväťdesiatsedem miliónov osemstoštyritisícdvestopäťdesiatšesť
Genitive štyristotrinásť miliárd šesťstodeväťdesiatsedem miliónov osemstoštyritisícdvestopäťdesiatšesť
Dative štyristotrinásť miliardám šesťstodeväťdesiatsedem miliónom osemstoštyritisícdvestopäťdesiatšesť
Accusative štyristotrinásť miliárd šesťstodeväťdesiatsedem miliónov osemstoštyritisícdvestopäťdesiatšesť
Locative štyristotrinásť miliardách šesťstodeväťdesiatsedem miliónoch osemstoštyritisícdvestopäťdesiatšesť
Instrumental štyristotrinásť miliardami šesťstodeväťdesiatsedem miliónmi osemstoštyritisícdvestopäťdesiatšesť

Ordinal numerals

Ordinal numerals (first, second, thousandth, etc.) behave like usual adjectives and are declined as such. The Slovak abbreviation for ordinals is a dot (10. = 10th).

Ordinals up to 99 are:

For compound numerals between 21 and 99, both parts are in the ordinal form:

“Hundredth” and “thousandth” are respectively stý and tisíci, but their multiples from 2 to 4 are formed with different prefixes that are usually found in compound words:

For higher numbers, the process is regular: päťstý (500.), šesťtisíci (6 000.), päťdesiattisíci (50 000.).

Hundreds and thousands are in the ordinal form is they are followed by something else: sto prvý (101.), dvesto päťdesiaty šiesty (256.), osemdesiatštyritisícšesťsto osemdesiaty (84 680.).

“Millionth” and “billionth” are respectively miliónty and miliardtý.

Collective numerals

The collective numerals are:

Collective numerals from 14 to 19 as well as multiples of ten from 40 to 90 seem theoretically possible, but I couldn’t find them in any dictionary. There are no collective numerals for 21…29, 31…39, etc.

Collective numerals are not declined and they are used with plural-only nouns (pluralia tantum: nouns that exist only in the plural, even though they designate a single object) as well as objects that come in pairs or groups: dvoje očí (two pairs of eyes), pätoro dverí (five doors), troje sardiniek (three cans of sardines).

Other kinds of numerals

There are other kinds of numerals in Slovak, but most of them are limited and do not present grammatical problems because they are adjectives or adverbs, such as multiplicative numerals (dvojnásobný: double). Notice the -krát suffix that means “times” and can be used after any numeral: dvakrát (twice), koľkokrát (how many times), prvýkrát (for the first time).

Indefinite numerals can behave:

There are also nouns derived from numerals that do not really have an English equivalent (usually, the ordinal is used):

These words can mean: a number, an object designed by the number (bus, playing card, hotel room, grade at school, banknote, meal in a menu…) or an approximate number: stovka is “(more or less) a hundred”.

Variations are possible for these words: for 5, there is the synonym pätorka, and for 9 I have often heard devinka, which I couldn’t find in any dictionary.

Case after a numeral

Although Slovak is not as crazy as Russian, choosing the right case after a numeral can seem complicated. It’s actually not that bad. You have to distinguish several possibilities:

Indefinite numerals such as koľko or mnoho are followed by the genitive when they are in the nominative and the accusative, and by the same case when they are in another case, but the number depends on whether the noun is countable or uncountable (just like in English, e.g. “a lot of trees” vs. “a lot of water”): koľko rokov, málo času, pred mnoho rokmi, s veľa jedlom.

When the subject of the sentence is a cardinal numeral equal or greater than 5, a collective numeral or a word like mnoho, the verb is in the third personal singular neuter: päť ľudí zomrelo.