Numbers in Welsh

I’ve got to the end of Level 2 and am happy as anything however I’m a little confused by numbers in general.

When I learnt welsh at school (around 25 years ago) we learnt un, dau, tri, and so on with numbers greater than ten being un deg un, un deg dau, etc. all the way up to 100 (cant). The only differences I was taught, were unarddeg for eleven and deuddeg for twelve and that was only when time and clocks were involved.
Watching some Sali Mali this morning they were counting un, dwy, tair and when I was buying a few things at the Eisteddfod I kept hearing tair. In SSiW Level 2 fifteen is pumddeg and twenty is hugain with 16 being pumddeg un, 17 being pumddeg dau, etc.

Has the formula/layout of numbers changed in the last 25 years or is this all interchangeable depending on where you live?

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No, the numbers haven’t changed, just that you probably weren’t exposed to them in all their forms.

dwy, tair and pedair are the feminine forms of dau, tri, pedwar - so if you’re counting things that are feminine, you’d use those (dau gi, tri chi, pedwar ci but dwy gath, tair chath, pedair cath)
Pumddeg and hugain are ‘older form’ numbers still in common use. Mostly the older numbers are indeed used in time, clocks, dates, but occasionally they still creep into normal speech. A lot of the time it’s personal preference.


On the subject of numbers, I’m moderately confident on Post Cyntaf on Thursday morning that someone said three plus deunaw - which I took to mean 21…

This surprised me and I have been wondering about this…I’ve not heard it before - is this ‘a thing’?

I would have to listen to the podcast again to be certain.

Rich :slight_smile:

yes, although you probably heard “tri ar ddeunaw” rather than “tri a deunaw”. It’s the old system of counting. 21 could also be said un ar hugain which is more common, but tri ar ddeunaw adds up!

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Yes it does!..funnily enough my brain processed it straight away - but also flagged that it was unusual…

I am working my way up the ladder of understanding on radio Cymru - which is very fruitful- but understanding is by no means a given…so there is something which is quite natural about it (it seems).

It is amazing that both old and new systems are both extensively and interchangeably used…even by the same person…and on the news programs at least I would say the old system has the edge! :smile:

Rich :slight_smile:


Gareth Ffowc Roberts has written a really interesting chapter on old & new numbers in his book “Mae Pawb yn Cyfrif” - I highly recommend it, it’s fascinating. (He also wrote a version in English called “Count Us In”)


Thanks Siaron and Rich. I understood that genders did make a difference with regards to numbers but it as you expect I don’t think I was ever really exposed to it at school. It was one of the problems of the formal education at the time that we were taught to pass exams rather than understanding the language as it’s spoken.
And congrats Rich on understanding Radio Cymru! I’m sticking with it although I understand about one word in twenty at the moment. I always seem to listen to the political news so it’s quite heavy going.


Hi @liam-murphy

I’m not sure if you are a subscriber or not?

If you are, you will have access to the Old Course and that has Vocab Units associated with it which go through lots of different things such as days of the week and months, saying hello - all sorts of things - including numbers - I think in units one and two.

When you get to the point where you are feeling ready (!) there is a route to getting a transcript (and translation) of the news reports on the BBC Cymru Fwy website - which is explained more here.

Going through these - initially before and more recently filling in any gaps afterwards - gave me a huge boost in understanding.

There is a little bit of an investment period in getting up to speed with ‘news bulletin vocab’ but I really felt it got me ‘on the ladder’ …from which point you just keep on keeping on :smile:

Rich :slight_smile:


deunaw (18 - two nines) gets me every time. I actually laugh.

I learned numbers the same as you at school.