Expressing large numbers: thousands, millions and billions

Up to neuf cent quatre-vingt-dix-neuf [choses] (999 [things]), you can express quantities simply with the number + [noun]

Vingt-six oeufs 
Twenty six eggs

Deux cents soldats 
Two hundred soldiers

See previous lesson: Expressing numbers 70 to 99 


Thousands

There are two ways to express a thousand [things] in French: 

mille + [plural noun] 
or 
un millier de + [plural noun]

Il lui envoie deux mille roses.
He sends her two thousand roses.

Il lui envoie deux milliers de roses.
He sends her two thousand roses.

Mille soldats sont venus.
A thousand soldiers came.

Un millier de soldats sont venus.
A thousand soldiers came.

-> Both mille and un millier de are followed by a plural verb (sont venus). 

ATTENTION: 

mille never agrees in number with the noun it refers to (deux mille), whereas un millier de becomes deux milliers de, etc

Note
that you always need the de with millier !


Millions

The way to express a million [things] is always: 

un million de + [plural noun]

Un million de touristes
One million tourists

Trois millions d'euros
Three million euros

Il a gagné six millions de dollars au loto.
He won six million dollars in the lottery.

Un million de agrees in number with the noun it refers to:
trois millions de, cinq millions de, ...

 

Billions

The way to express a billion [things] is always:

un milliard de + [plural noun]

Un milliard d'euros
A billion euros

Sept milliards d'êtres humains
Seven billion human beings

Ce château coûte dix milliards de livres sterling.
This palace costs ten billion pounds.

Un milliard de agrees in number with the noun it refers to: 
cent milliards de, vingt milliards de, ...

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Il a gagné six millions de dollars au loto.
He won six million dollars in the lottery.


Un millier de soldats sont venus.
A thousand soldiers came.


Il lui envoie deux milliers de roses.
He sends her two thousand roses.


Ce château coûte dix milliards de livres sterling.
This palace costs ten billion pounds.


billions


Sept milliards d'êtres humains
Seven billion human beings


Un milliard d'euros
A billion euros


millions


Un million de touristes
One million tourists


Trois millions d'euros
Three million euros


thousands


Mille soldats sont venus.
A thousand soldiers came.


Il lui envoie deux mille roses.
He sends her two thousand roses.


Q&A Forum 11 questions, 19 answers

ChaseB1Kwiziq community member

When can I take new kwiz???

Asked 5 months ago
RowenB1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Hi Chase - I've sent you an email to respond to this!

When can I take new kwiz???

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FranA1Kwiziq community member

Why is "Il lui envoie deux mille roses". "He set HER" 2000 roses. Could it not also mean he sent HIM?

Asked 6 months ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Fran !

Indeed, in French the indirect object pronoun for "him" and "her" is lui. Here, only the context can let you know whether the referrent is masculine or feminine.
We simply picked one :)

https://french.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/when-to-use-lui-and-leur-to-replace-specific-people-with-him-her-and-them-indirect-object-pronouns

Bonne journée !

Why is "Il lui envoie deux mille roses". "He set HER" 2000 roses. Could it not also mean he sent HIM?

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AndreaA2Kwiziq community member

Expressing numbers from 100

I cannot find the use of cent explained in a lesson. In this one, there is a sentence " deux cent soldats " When is cents used?

Asked 7 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Andrea, 

Deux cents has now been corrected.

The rule is as follows -

Cent has an -s if it is multiplied by the number that precedes it  but if it has another number after it there is no -s.

A very odd rule indeed and the same goes for ‘vingt’-

E.g.

Ça fait sept cents euros = It will be seven hundred euros

Ça fait sept cent quarante euros = It will be seven hundred and forty euros 

Vingt euros = Twenty euros

Quatre-vingts euros = Eighty euros 

Even we, native French have to think hard to remember this quaint rule to say the least...

 

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Probably we need an update to this lesson to explain this - it's complicated, and I think the one example given is wrong, it should be deux cents soldats.

It seems to be a difficult subject even for native speakers:

http://www.lefigaro.fr/langue-francaise/expressions-francaises/2018/02/09/37003-20180209ARTFIG00025-cent-ou-cents-ne-faites-plus-la-faute.php

 

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

That's very interesting. Great article!

CécileKwiziq team member

Has been flagged up...

Expressing numbers from 100

I cannot find the use of cent explained in a lesson. In this one, there is a sentence " deux cent soldats " When is cents used?

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SubratoA1Kwiziq community member

Isn't 'lui' used for 'him' and 'elle' for 'her'? Then why 'Il lui envoie deux mille roses' is translated as He sends her two thousand roses.

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Lui is the indirect object for both -- il and elle. Strictly speaking, from this sentence you can't tell whether the he sent the 2000 flowers to him or her.

Anne, je lui ai envoyé des roses.
Marc, je lui ai envoyé des roses.

As indirect object, lui serves both genders. As stress pronoun, however, it only applies to the male gender:

Je pense à elle.
Je pense à lui.

Isn't 'lui' used for 'him' and 'elle' for 'her'? Then why 'Il lui envoie deux mille roses' is translated as He sends her two thousand roses.

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BillB2Kwiziq community member

billion

I'm guessing this is using the US meaning of billion 10 to the 9 rather than the Imperial one of 10 to the 12
Asked 1 year ago
GruffKwiziq team member

That's a very good question. The answer is yes. However, the so-called short scale billion has also been in use in the UK since 1974 and no institutions I'm aware of use the long-scale billion any more.

I think the idea of the British billion being the long scale 10^12 has remained in our minds though as school teachers continued to teach the concept well into the 80s and 90s not realising it was no longer official.

Hope that helps!

Gruff

billion

I'm guessing this is using the US meaning of billion 10 to the 9 rather than the Imperial one of 10 to the 12

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DaphneB1Kwiziq community member

How to tell whether 'lui' refers to a him or a her

I've forgotten something: How would I know that the 'lui' as in 'Il lui  envoie deux mille rose' is a female & not a male (as in 'He sent 2 million roses to him' ?)
Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer
You'd only know by context.

How to tell whether 'lui' refers to a him or a her

I've forgotten something: How would I know that the 'lui' as in 'Il lui  envoie deux mille rose' is a female & not a male (as in 'He sent 2 million roses to him' ?)

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RobinA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Why not use elle instead of lui in the above sentence Il lui envoie deux millieurs de roses. Same for Il lui envoie deux mille rose? Are these typos?

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Robin,

in French it is "envoyer quelque chose à quelq'un". Therefore quelqu'un is an indirect object and the third person singular pronoun is lui, regardless of gender.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

RobinA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Many thanks!
Robin asked:View original

Why not use elle instead of lui in the above sentence Il lui envoie deux millieurs de roses. Same for Il lui envoie deux mille rose? Are these typos?

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TerryB1Kwiziq community member

Il elle envoie deux milliers de roses

Shouldn't 'elle' be used instead of 'lui' for 'He sends her' in the above example?
Asked 2 years ago
LauraKwiziq team memberCorrect answer
Bonjour Terry,

Elle is a subject pronoun, as in Elle est intelligente, or a stress pronoun, as in C'est pour elle.

In the sentence "He's sending her roses," her is an indirect object pronoun, and the third person singular indirect object pronoun - whether masculine or feminine - is lui. See our lesson: Replacing people with lui, leur = him, her, them (indirect object pronouns)
TerryB1Kwiziq community member
Merci Laura

Il elle envoie deux milliers de roses

Shouldn't 'elle' be used instead of 'lui' for 'He sends her' in the above example?

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DavidA1Kwiziq community member

Long and short scale.

Billions, trillions and so forth can be confusing. Two scales are used. A long scale, used in many english-speaking countries: 10^3 - thousand 10^6 - million 10^9 - billion 10^12 - trillion 10^15 - quadrillion 10^18 - quintillion 10^21 - sextillion (each "-illion" increases by a power of 3) And a long scale, used in most european countries: 10^3 - mille 10^6 - million 10^9 - milliard 10^12 - billion 10^15 - billiard 10^18 - trillion 10^21 - trilliard (each "-illion" increases by a power of 6 with a "-illiard" in-between) This can be confusing for an european when reading international news. For example, when the US is spending a trillion(en) dollars, it's actually spending a billion(fr), 10^12, not a trillion(fr), 10^18.
Asked 2 years ago
DavidA1Kwiziq community member
Oh, unfortunately the formatting of my message was removed. As it stands in one line it's just a jumble of words.

Long and short scale.

Billions, trillions and so forth can be confusing. Two scales are used. A long scale, used in many english-speaking countries: 10^3 - thousand 10^6 - million 10^9 - billion 10^12 - trillion 10^15 - quadrillion 10^18 - quintillion 10^21 - sextillion (each "-illion" increases by a power of 3) And a long scale, used in most european countries: 10^3 - mille 10^6 - million 10^9 - milliard 10^12 - billion 10^15 - billiard 10^18 - trillion 10^21 - trilliard (each "-illion" increases by a power of 6 with a "-illiard" in-between) This can be confusing for an european when reading international news. For example, when the US is spending a trillion(en) dollars, it's actually spending a billion(fr), 10^12, not a trillion(fr), 10^18.

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AnishA1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Hi, "I earn a thousand euros a month"

what will be the translation - should I use Un millions Euros or or Million Euros
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer
Bonjour Anish !

Actually there would be two possibilities here:
un millier d'euros (which was the option in that question)
or
mille euros (more colloquial)

I've now edited the question to accept mille as an alternate correct answer, which was an oversight on our part.

Merci et bonne journée !
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Anish, A thousand euros = mille euros. A million euros = un million d'euros.
AnishA1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Thank you Laura. The test answered me wrong when I answered "Mille Euros" for one thousand euros; the correct answer was "Un mille d´Euros". There is a mistake in the my question- i used million instead of mille. Regards Anish

Hi, "I earn a thousand euros a month"

what will be the translation - should I use Un millions Euros or or Million Euros

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AlmutC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Is "Un millier" exactly one thousand or about one thousand?

Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Almut, Un millier = about a thousand Mille = a thousand
AlmutC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Thank you!

Is "Un millier" exactly one thousand or about one thousand?

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