What is a definite numeral adjective?

1 Answer

They use cardinal (numbers used in an amount) and ordinals (numbers used as an order) to tell us something certain about a noun.


An adjective is a word that helps give us more information about a noun. If I say the brown cat, "brown" is the adjective - it tells us more about the noun "cat".

A numeral adjective is an adjective that tells us about how many or how much or in what order the noun is in. There are three kinds of numeral adjectives:

  • Definite numeral adjectives use cardinal (numbers used in an amount) and ordinals (numbers used as an order). Examples are:

Three cats ran up the steps - the word "three" is a cardinal number telling us the number of cats.

The third cat was the brown cat - the word "third" is an ordinal number telling us some information about the position of the brown cat (i.e. it was third in line).

  • Indefinite numeral adjectives give us an idea as to how many, but it's not specific. I can say:

A few cats ran up the stairs - was it three? four? more? "Few" tells us something about the number of cats but nothing definite.

  • Distributive numeral adjectives tell us something about the a group. For instance:

Each cat that ran up the stairs had blue eyes