Is there any confirmed grammatical rule explaining how to write (spell) ordinal numbers beyond 1 million?
Two examples:

  1. 1 000 001st:

    • milione primo;
    • un milione e primo;
    • un milione primo;
    • milioneunesimo;
    • another one?
  2. 2 500 000th:

    • due milioni cinquantamillesimo;
    • due milioni e cinquantamillesimo;
    • duemilionicinquantamillesimo;
    • another one?

Which ones are correct here? And is there any reliable source to confirm it?

Thank you

  • Welcome to Italian.SE!
    – Charo
    Oct 13, 2017 at 16:23
  • Notice that due milioni cinquantamillesimo is 2.050.000th, not 2.500.000th.
    – apaderno
    Oct 22, 2017 at 16:40

1 Answer 1


I know that this must sound disappointing, but the answer is more or less that they are so rarely used that there seems to be no fixed rule. Ordinal numbers are used mostly for places in a list, centuries, kings, popes, military units, symphonies and so on, all object that rarely get into the hundreds, let alone millions or billions. So should you actually write about, say, the 1,000,001th minute after some event, you'll probably just write the corresponding Italian notation: “1.000.001° minuto” (or some different phrasing involving a cardinal number).

Or, in the authoritative words of Luca Serianni (Italiano, Garzanti, p. 158):

Di questi gruppi [= cardinali, ordinali, frazionari, moltiplicativi, numerativi], l'unico in cui ogni ente matematico trovi una sua puntuale rappresentazione linguistica è quello dei cardinali: non c'è numero, per quanto grande, che non possa essere detto, oltre che scritto. Gli ordinali (e i frazionari, che vengono parzialmente indicati con essi) esistono solo virtualmente per i numeri più elevati.

Summing up in English: cardinals are the only numbers for each of which a linguistic representation is always possible, while the highest ordinals exist “only virtually”.

  • That's a nice addition to what I have been able to found, so thank you. But speaking in those 'virtual' terms, would you suggest any possible correct spelling of 1.000.000th? I'm just interested in how that could be played grammatically (of course, I would never use it in really life, and would say that as a cardinal if really needed anyway).
    – Eddy V
    Oct 13, 2017 at 16:39
  • 3
    Having to speak “virtually” (and so, in fact, fancifully), for 1,000,001th I'd either say unmilioneunesimo (the name of the ordinal joined to the suffix -esimo) or, paraphrasing the older forms decimoprimo and the like, milionesimoprimo. But take this with a whole packet of salt.
    – DaG
    Oct 13, 2017 at 17:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.