Expressing fractions - general (numbers)

Beware not to mix up fractions (to describe a part of a whole: half, third, fourth...) and ordinal numbers (to describe an order/rank: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, ...).
For ordinal numbers, see Forming ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 10th...).


Look at these examples of fractions:

un cinquième
1/5 - one fifth

deux cinquièmes
2/5 - two fifths

seize vingtièmes
16/20 - sixteen twentieths

To express fractions in French, you usually use both cardinal (un/deux/trois...) and ordinal numbers (premier/cinquième...) the same way as in English (one fifth).

Note also that just like in English, the second number is plural if the first is.


ATTENTION: 
Here are the irregular fractional numbers:

un demi
1/2 

 un tiers 
1/3

deux tiers
 2/3

trois quarts
3/4

un quart
1/4

 

Examples and resources

seize vingtièmes
16/20 - sixteen twentieths


deux cinquièmes
2/5 - two fifths


un cinquième
1/5 - one fifth


special forms


 un tiers 
1/3


un demi
1/2 


un quart
1/4


trois quarts
3/4


deux tiers
 2/3


Q&A Forum 2 questions, 4 answers

Trois sixièmes ou un demi

I appreciate that exercise is showing how to write fractions. However, do they actually say "trois sixièmes" instead of "un demi" in everyday life?
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi William,

I cannot think of a situation in every day life when you would use 'trois sixièmes' except in a Maths lesson...

 

GruffKwiziq language super star
Hi William - I'm not quite sure I've understood what you're asking. Could you elaborate?
You'd hear this in a classroom, or maybe 'Trois sixièmes, ah! c'est une demie!' after some calculation.

Trois sixièmes ou un demi

I appreciate that exercise is showing how to write fractions. However, do they actually say "trois sixièmes" instead of "un demi" in everyday life?

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AurélieKwiziq language super star

Joakim asked : why one says "tiers monde" rather than "troisième monde" ?

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Joakim ! ​The expression "le Tiers Monde" to say "the Third World" is fixed as it is in English: this is the only way to say this in French. ​"Le Troisième Monde" would feel like there are more than one world, i.e. one planet, when here it's more of a division of the world into three "parts", hence the use of the fraction here. À bientôt !

Joakim asked : why one says "tiers monde" rather than "troisième monde" ?

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