Numbers – Fractional Numerals

Numbers – Fractional Numerals

In this lesson, we’ll learn about fractional numerals. Fractional numerals (quantificadores fraccionários) define exact fractions, or parts, of a given thing. Let’s have a look at them.

Quantificador fraccionário Fractional numeral Quantificador fraccionário Fractional numeral
meio/metade half dezasseis avos sixteenth (part)
terço third dezassete avos seventeenth (part)
quarto fourth dezoito avos eighteenth (part)
quinto fifth dezanove avos nineteeth (part)
sexto sixth vinte avos/vigésimo twentieth (aprt)
sétimo seventh trigésimo thirtieth (part)
oitavo eigth quadragésimo fourtieth (part)
nono ninth quinquagésimo fiftieth (part)
décimo tenth sexagésimo sixtieth (part)
onze avos/undécimo eleventh (part) septuagésimo seventieth (part)
doze avos/duodécimo twelfth (part) octogésimo eightieth (part)
treze avos thirteenth (part) nonagésimo nintieth (part)
quatorze avos fourteenth (part) centésimo hundredth (part)
quinze avos fifteenth (part) milésimo thousandth (part)

Fractionals, just like multipliers, are paired with the preposition “de” or its prepositional contraction.

Fractionals and Ordinary Numerals

You’ll notice that a lot of these fractional numerals (apart from meio/metade and terço) coincide with the masculine versions of ordinary numerals: quarto, quinto, sexto, décimo, vigésimo, etc. This happens in English as well. In expressing smaller and smaller fractions, we commonly use the feminine version of those ordinary numerals with “parte”, meaning “part” in English. Example:
Um sétimo destes impostos vai para caridade.One seventh of these taxes goes to charity.
But also
Uma sétima parte destes impostos vai para caridade.A seventh part of these taxes goes to charity.
Usamos sempre vinte e seis avos do produto.We always use one twenty-sixth part of the product.
But also
Usamos sempre uma vigésima-sexta parte do produto.We always use one twenty-sixth part of the product.

Using “Avos”

Avos is a funny little word in Portuguese, and it’s used to signal every equal part a unit is divided in, as long as it’s divided more than ten times. Putting it another way: if we divide a certain something in up to ten equal parts, we use fractionals without “avo”. Example:
Um quinto dos estudantes copia em exames.A fifth of all students cheats during exams.
If we divide it into more than ten equal parts, we use “avos”. Example:
Um dezassete avos dos estudantes copia em exames.One seventeeth of all students cheats during exames.
In the previous example, we used “avos” because we divided our student body into seventeen equal parts. Though “avos” can technically be used for any division beyond ten equal parts, it’s usually not used for multiples of ten. Example:
Vou dar-te trinta avos da minha herança.I’ll give you a thirtieth part of my inheritance.
But more commonly
Vou dar-te uma trigésima parte da minha herança.I’ll give you a thirtieth part of my inheritance.
Or
Vou dar-te um trigésimo da minha herança.I’ll give you one thirtieth of my inheritance.
Notice that, if we use the ordinary numeral + “parte” construction, “avos” is no longer used.

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