Some ordinal numbers (i.e first, second, third...) in Spanish have a shorter form when they are placed before a singular masculine noun. This affects two ordinal numbers:
- Primer (first)
- Tercer (third)
Have a look and listen to the following examples:
El primer candidato pasó la entrevista con éxito.The first candidate completed the interview successfully.
Este es el tercer coche que compro este año.This is the third car I have bought this year.
The shorter form is not used in front of feminine nouns:
La tercera candidata pasó la entrevista con éxito.The third (female) candidate completed the interview successfully.
Es la primera vez que nos besamos.It is the first time we have kissed.
The short form is not used when accompanying feminine or masculine plural nouns either:
Los primeros años de universidad son siempre duros.The first years at University are always hard.
Estas serán las primeras navidades sin Cristina.This will be the first Christmas season without Cristina.
The long form of these adjectives (primero / tercero) are used as pronouns (i.e. not accompanying a noun) they do not change and retain their long form.
Have a look:
Fui el primero en llegar a la meta.I was the first (one) to reach the finish line.
- ¿A dónde va usted? -Voy al tercero.-Where are you going? -I am going to the third (floor).
For a list of ordinal numbers in Spanish see Ordinal adjectives
To see other cases of apocopation see
Want to make sure your Spanish sounds confident?
We’ll map your knowledge and give you free lessons to focus on your
gaps and mistakes. Start your Braimap today »