Latin Distributives

These are difficult, and I’m not sure I grasp all of their aspects. If you’d like, feel free to expand or correct me in comments.

There are four central aspects to the Latin numeral:

  • The cardinal: ūnus, duo, trēs, quattuor
  • The ordinal: prīmus, secundus, tertius, quārtus
  • The distributive: singulī, bīnī, ternī, quaternī
  • The adverb: semel, bis, ter, quater

The distributive describes how many each or how many apiece. It’s a numeral of rate.

  • The children received candy, one each: puerī mellīta accēpērunt, singula singulīs

Note a few things:

  • The distributive numerals are plural adjectives, here matching mellīta (singula) and puerī (–> puerīs) (singulīs)
  • They decline like the plural of bonus, -a, -um

The distributive are used to multiply, featured in the formula numeral adverb + distributive:

  • 2 x 2 = bis bīna
  • 3 x 7 = ter septēna

The poets also use distributives in place of cardinals, to express sets.

  • He threw two shafts (in a set): bīna hastīlia torsit.

Distributives 1-10

  • one each, singulī, -ae, -a
  • two each, bīnī, -ae, -a
  • three each, ternī, -ae, -a or trīnī, -ae, -a
  • four each, quaternī, -ae, -a
  • five each, quīnī, -ae, -a
  • six each, sēnī, -ae, -a
  • seven each, septēnī, -ae, -a
  • eight each, octōnī, -ae, -a
  • nine each, novēnī, -ae, -a
  • ten each, dēnī, -ae, -a

Distributives 11-99

  • eleven each, ūndēnī, -ae, -a
  • twelve each, duodēnī, -ae, -a
  • thirteen each, ternī dēnī, ternae dēnae, etc.
  • eighteen each, octōnī dēnī or duodēvīcēnī, -ae, -a
  • nineteen each, novēnī dēnī or ūndēvīcēni, -ae, -a
  • twenty each, vīcēnī, -ae, -a
  • twenty-one each, vīcēnī singulī, vīcēnae singulae, etc.
  • thirty each, trīcēnī, -ae, -a
  • fourty each, quadrāgēnī, -ae, -a
  • fifty each, quīnquāgēnī, -ae, -a
  • sixty each, sexāgēnī, -ae, -a
  • seventy each, septuāgēnī, -ae, -a
  • eighty each, octōgēnī, -ae, -a
  • ninety each, nōnāgēnī, -ae, -a

Distributives 100+

  • 100 each, centēnī, -ae, -a
  • 200 each, ducēnī, -ae, -a
  • 300 each, trecēnī, -ae, a
  • 400 each, quadringēnī, -ae, -a
  • 500 each, quīngēnī, -ae, -a
  • 600 each, sescēnī, -ae, -a
  • 700 each, septingēnī, -ae, -a
  • 800 each, octingēnī, -ae, -a
  • 900 each, nongēnī, -ae, -a
  • 1,000 each, mīllēnī, -ae, -a
  • 2,000 each bīna mīlia
  • 100,000 each centēna mīlia

The Essential AG: 136

Really BIG Numbers in Latin

How do you say 4, 800, 000 in Latin?

Large numbers in Latin work with numeral adverbs + units of mīllle.

  • 4,800,000, octīens et quadrāgiēns centēna mīlia
  • 5,900,487, noviēns et quīnquāgiēns centēna mīlia quadrigentī octōgintā septem.

Note that, because we don’t happen to possess a large number of fifth-grade math books from Rome, the most common place you’ll see numbers this large are records describing large sums of sestertia.

In these descriptions, the centēna mīlia is often omitted.

  • 3,300,000 sestertia = ter et trīciēns sestertium = ter et trīciēns (centēna mīlia) sestertium = thrice and thirty times 100,000
  • 2.7 billion sestertia = vīciēns ac septiēs mīliēns sestertium

(If anyone can explain why it’s sestertium and not sestertia, I’m all ears.)

For more on money matters, see my post on money.

https://latinforaddicts.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/roman-currency/

The Essential AG: 138a