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Numbers: The basic building block of mathematics

Numbers are one of those things without which mathematics is incomplete. Numbers can be considered as the basic building block of mathematics. These are necessary things to be learned to perform everyday mathematics. Without the proper knowledge of numbers, one cannot perform daily calculations. There are a large variety of numbers which we study in mathematics. Some of them are cardinal, ordinal, and many others too. Students are taught these types of numbers from their pre-primary and primary classes. For example, to describe 3⁄4, one can say three-fourths which is a type of ordinal number.

This article discusses everything regarding cardinal and ordinal numbers, their concepts with examples.

First of all, let’s discuss what ordinal numbers are. Ordinal numbers are those types of numbers that give an idea regarding the position of an object. For instance, the shoes are kept in the 4th row of the shoe rack, or the chocolates are kept in the 2nd drawer. Here the numbers 4th and 2nd represent the exact location of the object. Thus, those numbers which help in determining the position of different objects are termed as ordinal numbers.

There is one more type of number known as the cardinal number. Cardinal numbers are those numbers that are used to count the set of data or objects, to provide the exact quantity available. For example, if one wants to find out how many children are swimming in the pool at a particular moment.

Here are some basic examples where students can use cardinal and ordinal numbers.

  • Cardinal numbers can be used to find the set of the object, to find out how many pencils a student has, or the number of books the student has brought today.


  • Ordinal numbers are used in events such as who came in 1st in the class or the horse race.


  • Ordinal numbers are used when the students talk about different dates or birthdays. Say, Reema’s birthday was on the 11th of March.

These numbers are taught to students in their pre-primary classes. These numbers are very essential for the description of the fractions. When someone is learning ordinal numbers, they should learn them step by step.

Both the types of numbers that are cardinal as well as ordinal cannot be used as decimal values or negative numbers. To be more precise, these types of numbers only include the set of whole numbers.

Thus, the main difference between the cardinal and ordinal numbers is that ordinal numbers give the exact location and position while the cardinal number determines the absolute quantity of the object.

The whole numbers can be represented as the ordinal numbers like zero as 0th and one as 1st, and so on.

This article is an attempt to clarify all the basic concepts of cardinal and ordinal numbers.

If you want to know more about different types of numbers in mathematics, you can visit the website of Cuemath to clarify all your doubts.

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