Are Numbers Nouns? (Full Explanation)

You may have wondered, “are numbers nouns?” Or “what type of word are numbers?”

If you want to know for sure whether numbers are nouns, then keep reading because this page explains precisely what type of words numbers are and shows them in example sentences.

Are Numbers Nouns?

Numbers can be nouns or adjectives. If it is modifying another noun, it is an adjective. E.g., “There are three glasses.” However, if it is alone and doesn’t modify anything, it is a noun. E.g., “He rolled a three with the dice.”

Are Numbers Nouns

Numbers are examples of countable common nouns when they are not used to modify another noun.

Here are some examples of numbers as nouns:

  • The three of them left without saying a word.
  • He graduated in 1990.

Furthermore, when you write numbers in their plural form, they are usually nouns:

  • He rolled three sixes and then two fours.
  • I asked for tens and twenties, but the cashier gave me hundreds instead.

Also, when you see numbers with an article before them, such as “a,” “an,” or “the,” it is usually a noun.

  • He got a ten on the exam.
  • You will get a 100 if there are no mistakes in your text.
  • The 50% he obtained on the exam is not enough for entrance to this course.

Contrastingly, if the number describes an object, person, or place, it is not a noun.

 Here are some examples of when numbers are adjectives:

  • I have three dogs.
  • He is a 2003 graduate.
  • There were hundreds of people in the room.

Now that you know the basics of when a number is a noun, keep reading to discover more about the word types that numbers can fall into.

Are Numbers Adjectives?

Numbers are adjectives when they describe another noun in the sentence. For this purpose, some people refer to them as “quantifiers” or “determiners.”  

How the sentence is structured will determine whether the number is an adjective. If the noun is present, then the number is not a noun.

  • Four boys will be attending after-school classes. (Adjective)
  • The three will be attending after-school classes. (Noun)

Here is an example of how the word “dozen,” which means “12”, can be an adjective and a noun.

  • He bought a dozen eggs. (Adjective)
  • I only have a dozen. (Noun)

Furthermore, when you describe a noun, if the number forms part of the description, it is an adjective.

 In these cases, it needs a hyphen to connect it to the noun.

  • We went on a two-week holiday.
  • A 32-inch television is too small for this room.

Are Numbers Pronouns?

According to Cambridge Grammar, numbers can generally be adjectives, nouns, or determiners, but not pronouns.

The only number universally agreed to be a pronoun is “one,” mainly when referring to “oneself.”

Here are some examples of the word “one” as a pronoun:

  • It was a good film, but the last one was better.
  • One must be able to trust their partner or the relationship is pointless.

Are Numbers Verbs?

Numbers are not verbs because there is no alternative form to express a number in the past, present, or future.

However, they can be nouns, adjectives, adverbs, or determiners, depending on how they appear in the sentence.

An existing verb related to numbers is the verb “to number,” which means assigning multiple items a numerical value.

Conclusion

Numbers can act as nouns when they do not modify another noun in the sentence. E.g., “The six he rolled meant that he won the jackpot.”

However, when describing other nouns, they are either adjectives or determiners. E.g., “He ate four biscuits,” or “He went on a 3-month trip around the world.”