Ordinal indicator facts for kids
Quick facts for kids◌º | ◌ª
(masculine | feminine)
In written languages, an ordinal indicator is a character, or group of characters, following a numeral denoting that it is an ordinal number, rather than a cardinal number.
In English orthography, this corresponds to the suffixes -st, -nd, -rd, -th in written ordinals (represented either on the line 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or as superscript, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th).
Also commonly encountered are the superscript (and often underlined) ordinal indicators º and ª, originally from Romance, but via the cultural influence of Italian by the 18th century widely used in the wider cultural sphere of Western Europe, as in 1º primo and 1ª prima "first, chief; prime quality".
The practice of underlined (or doubly underlined) superscripted abbreviations was common in 19th-century writing (not limited to ordinal indicators in particular, and also extant in the numero sign №), and was also found in handwritten English until at least the late 19th century (e.g. "first" abbreviated 1st or 1 ).
In Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Galician, the ordinal indicators º and ª are appended to the numeral depending on whether the grammatical gender is masculine or feminine respectively. These suffixes are often underlined as well, though in regard to digital typography, this will depend on the font used. Cambria and Calibri, for example, have underlined ordinal indicators.
The masculine ordinal indicator U+00BA (º) is often confused with the degree sign U+00B0 (°), which looks very similar in many fonts and is available on the Italian keyboard layout. The degree sign is a uniform circle and is never underlined, while the letter o may be oval or elliptical and have a varying line thickness. The letter o may also be underlined.
Examples of the usage of ordinal indicators in Italian are:
- 1º primo ("first")
- 2º secondo ("second")
- 3º terzo ("third")
Galician also forms its ordinal numbers this way.
In Spanish, using the two final letters of the word as it is spelled is not allowed, except in the cases of primer (an apocope of primero) before singular masculine nouns, which is not abbreviated as 1.º but as 1.er, of tercer (an apocope of tercero) before singular masculine nouns, which is not abbreviated as 3.º but as 3.er, and of compound ordinal numbers ending in "primer" or "tercer". For instance, "twenty-first" is vigésimo primer before a masculine noun, and its abbreviation is 21.er. Since none of these words are shortened before feminine nouns, their correct forms for those cases are primera and tercera. These can be represented as 1.ª and 3.ª. As with other abbreviations in Spanish, the ordinal numbers have a period ".", which is placed before the indicator. Portuguese follows the same method.
Ordinal indicator Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.