The way Spanish expresses "a hundred [things]", "a thousand [things]", "a million [things]" or "a billion [things]" is slightly different to how this is expressed in English.
Let's see some examples:
One hundred/one thousand in Spanish
Look at how the words "cien" and "mil" do not change when applied to masculine and feminine nouns: they are invariable. Also, notice how in Spanish there is no indefinite article "un" which is present in English. This is a very common mistake.
It'd be incorrect to say:
- un cien pájaros
- un mil sillas
One million/one billion in Spanish
Here, the words "millón" and "billón" don't change either when referring to masculine or feminine nouns, they too are invariable. However, we need:
- "un" before the number
- "de" before the noun
A common mistake for English speakers is to omit the "de" as it is not required in English. This is incorrect:
- Un millón hombres
- Un billón mujeres
Hundreds/Thousands/Millions/Billions of [noun] in Spanish
As you can see, there is only one form for both masculine and feminine plural.
- cientos de [plural noun] → hundreds of [plural noun]
- miles de [plural noun] → thousands of [plural noun]
- millones de [plural noun] → millions of [plural noun]
- billones de [plural noun] → trillions of [plural noun]
See also Using numbers with nouns in Spanish
Important: about English billion and Spanish billón
In Spanish, "un billón" refers to "un millón de millones" (a million million) while "a billion" in modern English refers to "a thousand million".
Note that previously in the UK a billion was "a million million" (just like "un billón" in Spanish). Modern English texts do not use this system (the UK government adopted the newer system in 1974) and so it is not included in the table below.
|un millón||a million|
|mil millones (un millardo)**||a billion (a thousand million)|
|un billón (un millón de millones)||
* In Spanish, numbers with 4 digits have no thousand separator, e.g. 1,000 = 1000; numbers which have more than 4 digits have a thousand separator which is represented by a space, e.g. 40,000 = 40 000
** mil millones is used far more frequently that un millardo
See also Numbers from 1,000 to 1,000,000
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