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Numerals are words that tell how many things an expression is referring to. They are divided into cardinal numerals, ordinal numerals and collective numerals. Cardinal numerals are words such as okta, guokte, golbma (one, two, three). Ordinal numerals are adjectives: vuosttaš, nubbi, goalmmát (first, second, third). Collective numerals are nouns: guovttis, golmmas, njealjis (two people, three people, four people).

Numerals can be used alone as separate elements of a sentence, here for example, as complements and objects:

  • Mun bohten 'goalmmádin'. (I came in 'third (place)'.)
  • Mun válddán 'goalmmáda'. (I'll take 'the third one').

When numerals stand alone, they can be inflected in all cases.

Cardinal and ordinal numerals can also premodify nouns. Ordinal numerals are not inflected before a noun, but cardinal numerals follow certain agreement rules:

  • Mun válddán 'goalmmát' vuoru. (I'll take the 'third' watch.)
  • Mun vuorddán 'goalmmát' beaivái. (I'll wait until the third day.)
  • Mun válddán 'golbma' vuoru. (I'll take 'three' watches.)
  • Mun attán liđiid 'golmma' olbmui. (I'll give flowers to 'three' people.)

Different Stems

A foot is a group of syllables where the first syllable has stress: The words mil-jovnna and guoktása both have three syllables. The first word has two feet, whereas the other only has one. guokte-logi has two feet.

Even-syllabic numeral words have two syllables in the last foot in the plural form. These numerals show the strong grade in nominative singular, and weak grade in plural, e.g. nubbi - nuppit. Most cardinal numerals have even-syllabic stems. The exception is 'duhát', which has an odd-syllabic stem. 'guovttos' may also be inflected as a contract numeral. The numeral words 'galle', 'máŋga' and 'moadde' also have even-syllabic stems.

Odd-syllabic numeral words have three syllables in the last foot in accusative/genitive singular, e.g. vuosttaš - vuosttaža, golmmas - golbmasa. Nominative singular shows weak grad, most other forms show strong grade, but not all odd-syllabic numerals show consonant gradation.

Most ordinals have an odd-syllabic stem, and they show no consonant gradation. The exception is 'nubbi', which has an even-syllabic stem, and consonant gradation. Most collective numerals have odd-syllabic stems and consonant gradation. The exception is 'guovttis', which also may be inflected as a contract numeral.

Contract numerals have two syllables in their last foot in both nominative and accusative/genitive singular. The numeral shows weak grade in nominative singular and strong grade in other cases, e.g. guovttis - guoktá, guovttos - gukto. Note that 'guovttis' also may inflected as an odd-syllabic numeral: guovttis - guoktása. 'guovttos' may also be inflected as an even syllabic numeral, but without consonant gradation: guovttos - guovtto.

Consonant Gradation

Consonant gradation usually is manifested as an alternation in the consonantism between the first and the second syllable of a foot, like e.g. nubbi - nuppit. Nominative singular of even-syllabic words shows strong grade, as does nominative plural of odd-syllabic words. Weak grade, on the other hand side, is found e.g. in nominative plural of even-syllabic numerals, or in nominative singular of odd-syllabic words.

The following shows examples of consonant gradation, with strong grade to the left and weak grade to the right:

  • nubbi - nuppit
  • vihtta - viđat
  • golbmasa - golmmas
  • okta - ovttat
  • guokte - guovtti
  • guoktá - guovttis

Here you may read more on consonant gradation.


is a set of inflectional forms showing which function in the clause nouns, adjectives, numerals and pronouns carry (these 4 parts of speech are often lumped together under the common term nominals). There are seven cases in North Saami. Cardinal numerals follow the same case inflection as nouns, with one important exception: The form of the object in the singular (called accusative) is identical to the nominative for cardinal numerals, whereas the accusative form for other nominals is identical to the genitive. In the plural the object form of cardinal numerals is identical to that of the genitive, just as it is for all other nominals.

Simple Cardinal Numerals

Nominative is the basic form of the numeral, used in contexts like 'Golbma' bohte ruoktot. 'Čieža' lea stuorát go 'guhtta' "Three came home. Seven is larger than six". Even-syllabic numerals show strong grade in nominative singular, and weak grade in nominative plural. The numerals 'čuođi', 'logi', 'čieža', 'gávcci' and 'ovcci' show weak grade in nominative singular, even though they otherwise follow the inflectional pattern of even-syllabic numerals. The numerals 'vihtta' and 'guhtta' show an exceptional alternation between 'htt' in the strong grade and 'đ' in the weak grade (the normal alternation would have been 'htt-ht'. The cardinal numeral 'duhát' has odd-syllabic stem, and no consonant gradation.

Accusative is the case used for objects, e.g. Mun oainnán 'golbma'. Soai váldiba 'vihtta'. Mun válddán 'ovtta' "I see three. They take five. I take one". The form is identical to the nominative, except for the numerals 'okta', 'nolla' and 'miljon', which show (genitive-like) weak grade in accusative singular. Note that 'nolla' shows consonant gradation in speech, even though the alternation is not visible in writing. Accusative plural is identical to genitive plural for all cardinal numerals.

Genitive is the case expressing possession, e.g. Die lea 'golmma' sadji "This is the three's position". Genitive is also used in pre- and postposition expressions, like e.g. Boađán maŋŋil 'guovtti'. Fertet vuolgit ovdal 'golmma'. Olbmot ledje boahtán 'čuđiid' mielde "I come after two. We must go before three. Hundreds of people had come". Both singular and plural genitive show weak grade for even-syllabic words. This goes for 'galle' and 'nolla' as well, even though the alternation does not show in writing.

Genitive singular is not identical to accusative singular, except for the numerals 'okta', 'nolla' and 'miljon'. Genitive plural is identical to accusative plural for all cardinals. The cardinals 'čuođi', 'logi', 'čieža', 'gávcci' and 'ovcci' have the same form in nominative, accusative and genitive singular. Note that numerals ending in '-e', have an '-i' ending in the weak grade.

Illative is a case denoting movement to or into something. Illative singular shows strong grade, but illative plural shows weak grade. 'duhát' does not have consonant gradation. Go joavddán 'čuohtái', de heaittán lohkamis "When I come to hundred, I stop counting". The numeral 'čieža' has several possible forms, one without consonant gradation, one with normal strong grade, and one with extra strong grade.

Locative is the case expressing relations on/in/with/from. Numerals in locative singular expresses approximate point in time. Locative shows weak grade in both singular and plural. Mun jávkkan 'guovttis' guđa rádjái. Elle dajai ahte boahtá 'viđas'. "I will be away between around two and five. Elle said that she comes around five.

Comitative is the case often expressing "with". The plural form has the suffix '-guin', whereas the singular form has '-in'. Comitative has weak grade both in singular and in plural. Ii 'miljovnnain' oastte viesu dán áigge. 'Miljovnnaiguin' gal baicca boađášii viessu "You cannot buy a house even with a million these days. With several millions you might get a house".

Essive is the case often expressing "as". Essiv has strong grade, and the suffix is '-n': Mun gádden supmi 'miljovdnan', muhto ii leange eambbo go moadde duhát "I thought the sum was a million, but it turned out to be no more than a couple of thousand". Essive has the same form in singular and plural.

Nom. Acc. Gen. Ill. Loc. Com. Ess.
okta ovtta ovtta oktii ovttas ovttain oktan
guokte guokte guovtti guoktái guovttis guvttiin guoktin
golbma golbma golmma golbmii golmmas golmmain golbman
njeallje njeallje njealji njealljái njealjis njeljiin njealljin
vihtta vihtta viđa vihttii viđas viđain vihttan
guhtta guhtta guđa guhttii guđas guđain guhttan
čieža čieža čieža čižii, čihčii, čihččii čiežas čiežain čiehčan
gávcci gávcci gávcci gákcái gávccis gávcciin gákcin
ovcci ovcci ovcci okcái ovccis ovcciin okcin
logi logi logi lohkái logis logiin lohkin
čuođi, (čuohti) čuođi čuođi čuohtái čuođis čuđiin čuohtin
duhát duhát duháha duháhii duháhis duháhiin duháhin
nolla, nulla nolla, nulla nolla, nulla nollii, nullii nollas, nullas nollain, nullain nollan, nullan
miljon miljovnna miljovnna miljovdnii miljovnnas miljovnnain miljovdnan
máŋga máŋga máŋgga máŋgii máŋggas máŋggain máŋgan
moadde moadde moatti moaddái moattis mottiin moadden
galle galle galli gallái gállis gálliin gallen

Nom. Acc/Gen. Ill. Loc. Com.
ovttat ovttaid ovttaide ovttain ovttaiguin
guovttit guvttiid guvttiide guvttiin guvttiiguin
golmmat golmmaid golmmaide golmmain golmmaiguin
njealjit njeljiid njeljiide njeljiin njeljiiguin
viđat viđaid viđaide viđain viđaiguin
guđat guđaid guđaide guđain guđaiguin
čiežat čiežaid čiežaide čiežain čiežaiguin
gávccit gávcciid gávcciide gávcciin gávcciiguin
ovccit ovcciid ovcciide ovcciin ovcciiguin
logit logiid logiide logiin logiiguin
čuođit čuđiid čuđiide čuđiin čuđiiguin
duháhat duháhiid duháhiidda duháhiin duháhiiguin
nollat, nullat nollaid, nullaid nollaide, nullaide nollain, nullain nollaiguin, nullaiguin
miljovnnat miljovnnaid miljovnnaide miljovnnain miljovnnaiguin
máŋggat máŋggaid máŋggaide máŋggain máŋggaiguin
moattit mottiid mottiide mottiin mottiiguin
gallit galliid galliide gálliin gálliiguin

Compound Cardinal Numerals

Saami has many compound numerals. Whole tens, hundreds and thousands consist of two parts, e.g. guokte/logi, vihtta/čuođi, gávcci/duhát. The numerals 11-19 consist of three parts, e.g. guokte/nuppe/lohkái, čieža/nuppe/lohkái. This pattern may also be used for numerals from 21 and upwards, e.g. čieža/goalmmát/lohkái (27). This is the old way of counting. The most common way of expressing numerals above 21 is still to mention the tenths first, and therafter the numerals below ten: guokte/logi/čieža (27). Compound cardinal numerals behave like simple cardinal numerals in having their object form in singular identical to the nominative.

Only the last part of compound numerals inflect for case, e.g. Mun válddán 'čiežalogiguhtta'. 'Gávccilogiguđas' ledjen mun ain vuođđoskuvllas. When the compound numeral consists of two or more parts, also the first and second part are inflected, according to specific rules. For whole tens, hundreds and thousands the first part is inflected in the same case as the second, expcept for in locative and illative singuler, where the first part is realised as genitive singular. In illative and comitative plural, the first part may also be realised as genitive plural.

  • Lohkagoađán jitnosit 'golmma/logi' rájes.
  • In ollen guhkkelii go 'golmma/lohkái'.
  • Mun álggán 'viđain/logiin'.
  • Rehkenasttán 'guvttiid/logiiguin'.
  • Rehkenasttán 'guvttiiguin/logiiguin'.

In compound numerals from 11-19, and in numerals made according to the old counting rule, the suffix '-lohkái' is inflected as 'logi' in most cases. In nominative and accusative singular, the suffix '-lohkái'. is used. The other part is not inflected. The first part is usually realised as nominative singular. In illative and locative singular, however, the first part is realised as genitive singular. When the last part is realised as comitative singular or locative plural, the first part is realised in the same case, e.g.

  • Logan 'viđa/nuppe/logi' rádjái.
  • In ollen guhkkelii go 'viđa/nuppe/lohkái'.
  • Gal 'viđain/nuppe/logiin' birge.
  • Gal 'vihtta/nuppe/logiiguin' birge.

For the other compound numerals, only the last part is normally inflected. The first and other parts are realised as nominative singular. In comitative singular and locative plural, there is concord between all three parts:

  • Logan 'guokte/logi/golmma' rádjái.
  • In ollen guhkkelii go 'guokte/logi/golbmii'.
  • Gal 'guvttiin/logiin/golmmain' birge.

In compound numerals with several parts, only the last part is inflected: Gal 'vihtta/duhát/guokte/čuođi/golmmain' birge.

Nom./Acc. guokte/logi guokte/nuppe/lohkái guokte/logi/golbma
Gen. guovtte/logi guovtte/nuppe/logi guokte/logi/golmma
Ill. guovtte/lohkái guovtte/nuppe/lohkái guokte/logi/golbmii
Loc. guovtte/logis guovtte/nuppe/logis guokte/logi/golmmas
Com. guvttiin/logiin guvttiin/nuppe/logiin guvttiin/logiin/golmmain
Essive guoktin/lohkin, guoktin/login guokte/nuppe/lohkin, guokte/nuppe/login guokte/logi/golbman

Nom. guovttit/logit guokte/nuppe/logit guokte/logi/golmmat
Acc./Gen. guvttiid/logiid guokte/nuppe/logiid guokte/logi/golmmaid
Ill. guvttiid/logiide, guvttiide/logiide guokte/nuppe/logiide guokte/logi/golmmaide
Loc. guvttiin/logiin guvttiin/nuppe/logiin guvttiin/logiin/golmmain
Com. guvttiid/logiiguin, guvttiiguin/logiiguin guokte/nuppe/logiiguin guokte/logi/golmmaiguin

Ordinal Numerals are Adjectives

It is possble to form ordinal numerals from all cardinal numerals, except 'moadde' and 'máŋga'. Ordinal numerals are usually made by adding the ending '-át' to the genititive form of the singular form of the cardinal numeral. This suffix may also be added to compound numerals. njealját, guđát, viđát, logát, čieža/nuppe/logát. The exceptions from this rule are 'vuosttaš', 'nubbi', 'goalmmát' and 'čihččet'.

Most ordinal numerals are inflected like trisyllabic adjectives. The exception is 'nubbi', which is inflected like a bisyllabic adjective. The other ordinal numerals do not show consonant gradation, and they are not inflected when occuring with a noun (except 'nubbi'):

  • Dá lea 'vuosttaš'. Mun oainnán 'vuosttažiid'.
  • Dá lea 'goalmmát'. Mun válddán 'goalmmáda'.
  • Mun válddán 'goalmmát' girjji. 'Viđát' siiddus čuožžu eambbo dan birra.

Collective Numerals are nouns

Collective numerals are made by adding the suffix '-s' to the genitive form of the singular form of the ordinal numeral. Collective numerals are used for expressing the number of persons. golmmas, njealjis, viđas, guđas. All collective numerals are trisyllabic nouns and show consonant gradation, with weak grade in nominative singular and essive, and strong grade in other forms:

  • 'Guovttis' leat boahtán. Mun oainnán 'guoktása'.
  • 'Golmmas' sihtet gáfe. Attán 'golbmasii' gáfe.

Collective numerals cannot appear together with a noun in one clause constituent.

Regular Derivations of Numerals

Numerals may be used to derive new words, both nouns and adverbs. By adding the suffix '-eš' to the weak grade of a numeral one makes a new noun. Note that the suffix induces diphthong simplification: ovtteš, guvtteš, golmmeš, logeš. These words may be translated as "a one", "a two", "a three" and "a four". This is the common way of referring to numerals in card games. Mus leat njeallje 'ovcceža'. (I have four nines).

By adding the suffix '-ii' to the strong grade of numerals, one gets an adverb meaning "so many times". The form resembles illative singular, but there are some subtle differences. Note that this suffix induces diphthong simplification, and illativ singular for 'guokte' and 'njeallje' are thus different from this adverb.

  • Lean 'golbmii' leamaš olgoriikkas.
  • (I have been abroad three times).
  • Son lea 'guktii' dán kurssa váldán.
  • (He has taken this course twice).
  • Ledjen 'njelljii' doaktára luhtte ovdal go dearvvašnuvven.
  • (I went to the doctor four times before I got well).

Simple Numerals in Combination with Nouns

When numerals occur together with nouns in the same phrase, there are specific rules for concord. If the phrase is in the nominative, the nominative is expressed by the nominative numeral. The words cooccurring with the numeral are put in genitive singular. Mus leat 'golbma beatnaga'. North Saami thus differs from English, where the corresponding nouns carries plural. (I have three dogs). Words following 'okta' "one" are put in nominative singular, though: Mus lea 'okta beana'.

Note that the phrase is in the singular, even though it refers to several things. Plural is used only for plural words, like words denoting religious events and celebrations (christmas, wedding, etc.), or inherent plurals or pairs (a pair of socks, trousers, etc.). When the noun is a plural noun, and the constituent expresses nominative, both numeral and noun are in nominative plural: Dáppe leat odne 'golmmat heajat'. (There are three weddings here today).

For other cases there is agreement between numeral and noun. The numeral is inflected in the same case as the noun, except for in illative and locative singular, when the numeral is inflected for genitive singular. In illative and comitative plural the numeral may also carry accusative/genitive plural. Note that the ordinal 'nubbi' follows the same rules for agreement inflection:

  • Mun čálán 'guokte reivve'.
  • Mun lean ožžon 'máŋgga oahppis' rámi.
  • Skuvla lea sádden 'viđa studentii' árvosániid.
  • Bija 'nuppi juolgái' suohku.
  • Son lea 'logiid fáhcaid' juo láhppán.
  • Čálán 'logiide fáhcaide' namaid.
  • Čálán 'logiid fáhcaide' namaid.
  • Ii 'máŋggaiguin sabehiiguin' goastta gosage.
  • Ii 'máŋggaid sabehiiguin' goastta gosage.

Numeral with noun
Singular Plural
Nom. guokte fáhca guovttit fáhcat
Acc. guokte fáhca guvttiid fáhcaid
Gen. guovtti fáhca guvttiid fáhcaid
Ill. guovtti fáhccii guvttiid fáhcaide, guvttiide fáhcaide
Loc. guovtti fáhcas guvttiin fáhcain
Com. guvttiin fáhcain guvttiid fáhcaiguin, guvttiiguin fáhcaiguin
Essive guoktin fáhccan

Compound Numerals in Combination with Nouns

When the numeral cooccurs with a noun in the same phrase, there are specific rules for agreement. If the phrase as a whole carries nominative, nominative is expressed by the numeral. The words attaching to the numeral are put in genitive singular. Composed numerals ending in '-lohkái' and '-logi' have a separate attributive form ending in '-lot'. Mun lean ožžon 'guoktenuppelot rávddu'. Son lea jávkan 'golbmalot diimmu'.

Note that the nouns are in the singular, even though the phrase refers to several things. In front of singular nouns only the suffix '-lot' is used. Suffixes '-lohkái' and '-logi' may only be used in certain cases. '-lohkái' may be used in nominative and accusative. The suffix '-logi' may be used in nominative, accusative and genitive. Note that in this case it refers to whole tens, and not to an inflected form of '-lohkái'.


  • Dá leat 'golbmanuppelot silbaboalu'.
  • Dá leat 'golbmanuppelohkái silbaboalu'.
  • Dá leat 'golbmalot silbaboalu'.
  • Dá leat 'golbmalogi silbaboalu'


  • Oasttán 'golbmanuppelot silbaboalu'.
  • Oasttán 'golbmanuppelohkái silbaboalu'.
  • Oasttán 'golbmalot silbaboalu'.
  • Oasttán 'golbmalogi silbaboalu'.


  • Dá leat 'golmmanuppelot silbaboalu' lávggastagat.
  • Dá leat 'golmmalot silbaboalu' lávggastagat.
  • Dá leat 'golmmalogi silbaboalu' lávggastagat.

The short attributive form may be uninflected in front of the noun, regardless of what case the noun might express:

  • Mun čálán 'guoktenuppelot reivve'.
  • Skuvla lea sádden 'vihttanuppelot studentii' árvosániid.
  • Son lea 'vihttalot niibbi' juo láhppán.
  • Son lea ságastallan 'vihttanuppelot' studeanttain.
  • Oahpaheaddji bođii girkui 'guoktelot' ohppiin.

The first part may also agree with the noun. Then it is inflected for the same case as the noun, except again for the illative and locative singular, when the numeral gets the genitive singular:

  • Mun čálán 'guoktenuppelot reivve'.
  • Skuvla lea sádden 'viđanuppelot studentii' árvosániid.
  • Son lea 'vihttalot niibbi' juo láhppán.
  • Son lea ságastallan 'viđainnuppelot studeanttain'.
  • Oahpaheaddji bođii girkui 'viđainlot ohppiin'.

Nom./Acc. guoktenuppelot fáhca guoktelot fáhca
Gen. guovttenuppelot fáhca guovttelot fáhca
Ill. guovttenuppelot fáhccii guovttelot fáhccii
Loc. guovttenuppelot fáhcas guovttelot fáhcas
Com. guvttiinnuppelot fáhcain guvttiinlot fáhcain
Essive guoktinnuppelot fáhccan guoktinlot fáhccan

Plural words are put in plural following numerals. These are words for religious holidays, celebrations and words denoting sets or pairs (a pair of socks, trousers). In the plural, both '-lot' and '-logi/-lohkái' may be used. In the '-lot' forms the first part must be inflected together with the noun. In the '-logi/-lohkái' forms inflection of the first part is facultative, but the last part must always agree with the noun. In plural, the numeral agrees with the nouns in all cases, except from in illative and comitative, when the numeral inflects for genitive plural.

Examples with '-lot':

  • Mus leat 'viđatnuppelot ulloleasttut'.
  • Mun vurden 'máŋggaidlot juovllaid'.
  • 'Viđainnuppelot gápmagiin' leat vuoddagat.
  • Mun čuolddán vuoddagiid 'viđaidlot gápmagiidda'.
  • Áhkku vuoddjái márkaniidda 'viđaidlot gápmagiiguin'.

Examples with '-logi/lohkái' without inflection of the first part:

  • Mus leat 'vihttanuppelogit ulloleasttut'.
  • Mun vurden 'máŋgalogiid juovllaid'.
  • 'Vihttanuppelogiin gápmagiin' leat vuoddagat.
  • Mun čuolddán vuoddagiid 'vihttalogiid gápmagiidda'.
  • Áhkku vuoddjái márkaniidda 'vihttalogiid gápmagiiguin'.

Examples with 'logi/lohkái' with inflection of the first part:

  • Mus leat 'viđatnuppelogit ulloleasttut'.
  • Mun vurden 'máŋggaidlogiid juovllaid'.
  • 'Viđainnuppelogiin gápmagiin' leat vuoddagat.
  • Mun čuolddán vuoddagiid 'viđaidlogiid gápmagiidda'.
  • Áhkku vuoddjái márkaniidda 'viđaidlogiid gápmagiiguin'.

Plural, -lohkái/-logi, with inflection of first part
Nom. guovttitnuppelogit fáhcat guovttitlogit fáhcat
Acc./Gen. guvttiidnuppelogiid fáhcaid guvttiidlogiid fáhcaid
Ill. guvttiidnuppelogiid fáhcaide guvttiidlogiid fáhcaide
Loc. guvttiinnuppelogiin fáhcain guvttiinlogiin fáhcain
Com. guvttiidnuppelogiid fáhcaiguin guvttiidlogiid fáhcaiguin
Essive guovttitnuppelogin fáhccan guoktinlogin fáhccan

Plural, -lohkái/-logi, without inflection of first part
Nom. guoktenuppelogit fáhcat guoktelogit fáhcat
Acc./Gen. guoktenuppelogiid fáhcaid guoktelogiid fáhcaid
Ill. guoktenuppelogiid fáhcaide guoktelogiid fáhcaide
Loc. guoktenuppelogiin fáhcain guoktelogiin fáhcain
Com. guoktenuppelogiid fáhcaiguin guoktelogiid fáhcaiguin
Essive guoktenuppelogin fáhccan guoktelogin fáhccan

Plural, -lot
Nom. guovttitnuppelot fáhcat guovttitlot fáhcat
Acc./Gen. guvttiidnuppelot fáhcaid guvttiidlot fáhcaid
Ill. guvttiidnuppelot fáhcaide guvttiidlot fáhcaide
Loc. guvttiinnuppelot fáhcain guvttiinlot fáhcain
Com. guvttiidnuppelot fáhcaiguin guvttiidlot fáhcaiguin
Essive guovttitnuppelot fáhccan guoktinlot fáhccan