## Table of Contents

While Lingala numbers exist, most speakers use French numbers, inherited from the formers rulers’ language. Most people are able to count up to ten at most and don’t know how to count in Lingala. Then, a lot of them struggle to count beyond. A few people don’t even know that it is possible to calculate further than billions without saying a word in French!

In this article, we explain the importance of numbers in our day-to-day life and show you how to count in Lingala. You will also discover an interesting way of writing an ordinal number in Lingala.

## 1. Importance of counting

Our own lives are ruled by numbers. We use numbers not only in the basic mathematical operations like summation, subtraction, multiplication or division, but also in or daily life. Indeed, how do you survive in our modern society without being numerate? How do you do your daily businesses, measure, trade, or other important activities? Either school, work, leisure, we use numbers for date, time, phone numbers, password …

In the absence of numbers, nothing can be measured or quantified. This would lead to compare things or concepts to each other’s using a qualitative approach and analogies like “a few” or “some.”, “more “ or “less”. Which would not only be tedious, but also inaccurate. Without numbers, people would be struggling to precisely differentiate and recall quantities.

## 2. How to count in Lingala: cardinal number

### 2.1. Unit

Counting up to 9 in Lingala is straight forward thanks to specific words.

Numeral | Cardinal |

0 | Libungutúlu |

1 | Mókó |

2 | Míbalé |

3 | Mísató |

4 | Mínei |

5 | Mítáno |

6 | Motóba |

7 | Sámbó |

8 | Mwámbe |

9 | Libwá |

**10 first cardinal numbers**

### 2.2. Tens

#### 2.2.1. From 11 to 19

From 10, Lingala number naming system is regular. It uses consistent rules to combine ten with the basic unit to indicate quantities. Which make counting very easy to learn.

When counting from 11 to 19, we use zómi* and the *word *n*á (with) and then one of the unit numbers.

Numeral | Cardinal |

10 | Zómi |

11 | Zómi ná mókó |

12 | Zómi ná míbalé |

13 | Zómi ná mísató |

14 | Zómi ná mínei |

15 | Zómi ná mítáno |

16 | Zómi ná motóba |

17 | Zómi ná sámbó |

18 | Zómi ná mwámbe |

19 | Zómi ná libwá |

**10 first 2 digit cardinal numbers**

In contrast to Lingala, French and English use irregular counting in the first set of tens.

Numeral | French Cardinal | English Cardinal |

10 | Dix | Ten |

11 | Onze | Eleven |

12 | Douze | Twelve |

13 | Treize | Thirteen |

14 | Quatorze | Forteen |

15 | Quinze | Fifteen |

16 | Seize | Sixteen |

17 | Dix sept | Seventeen |

18 | Dix huit | Eighteen |

19 | Dix neuf | Nineteen |

**10 first 2 digit cardinal numbers French and English**

#### 2.2.2. From 20 to 99

When we reach 20, instead of using the word *zómi**,* we replace it with ntúkú. The tens are formed by putting ntúkú before their multiplier digit as in the table below.

Numeral | Cardinal |

20 | Ntúkú míbalé |

30 | Ntúkú mísató |

40 | Ntúkú mínei |

50 | Ntúkú mítáno |

60 | Ntúkú motóba |

70 | Ntúkú sámbó |

80 | Ntúkú mwámbe |

90 | Ntúkú libwá |

**10 units cardinal numbers**

To write compound numbers, the rule is the same as for between 10 and 19. We use ntúkú* and the *word *n*á (with) and then one of the unit numbers. This rule is applicable until 99.

Numeral | Cardinal |

21 | Ntúkú míbalé ná mókó |

99 | Ntúkú libwá ná libwá |

French has some exceptions in counting the tens, which make it harder to learn for beginners.

Numeral | French Cardinal | Transcription |

70 | Soixante dix | 60 and 10 |

80 | Quatre vingt | 4 X 20 |

90 | Quatre vingt dix | 4 X 20 and 10 |

**10 units cardinal numbers French**

### 2.3. Hundreds

#### 2.3.1. Simple numbers

Hundreds are formed by setting the multiplier digit after the word *nkámá. As the tens, the exception is *for one hundred itself.

Numeral | Cardinal |

100 | Nkámá |

200 | Nkámá míbalé |

300 | Nkámá mísató |

400 | Nkámá mínei |

500 | Nkámá mítáno |

600 | Nkámá motóba |

700 | Nkámá sámbó |

800 | Nkámá mwámbe |

900 | Nkámá libwá |

**100 cardinal numbers**

#### 2.3.2. Compound numbers

You still need to use the word *nkámá* and add likewise the unit or tens with the word ná.

Numeral | Cardinal |

106 | Nkámá ná motóba |

116 | Nkámá ná zómi ná motóba |

136 | Nkámá ná ntúkú mísató mínei |

206 | Nkámá míbalé ná motóba |

216 | Nkámá míbalé ná zómi ná motóba |

236 | Nkámá míbalé ná ntúkú mísató mínei |

999 | Nkámá libwá ná ntúkú libwá ná libwá |

### 2.4. Thousands

#### 2.4.1. Simple numbers

Starting from 1000 thousands are formed by setting the multiplier digit after the word nkóto*. As the tens and hundreds, the exception is *for one thousand itself.

Numeral | Cardinal |

1,000 | Nkóto |

2,000 | Nkóto míbalé |

3,000 | Nkóto mísató |

4,000 | Nkóto mínei |

5,000 | Nkóto mítáno |

6,000 | Nkóto motóba |

7,000 | Nkóto sámbó, |

8,000 | Nkóto mwámbe |

9,000 | Nkóto libwá |

**1000 cardinal numbers**

#### 2.4.2. Compound numbers

As seen previously each group of numbers is linked to the others with *ná*.

Numeral | Cardinal |

1,036 | Nkóto ná ntúkú mísató mínei |

1, 216 | Nkóto ná nkámá míbalé ná zómi ná motóba |

4,036 | Nkóto mínei ná ntúkú mísató mínei |

4, 216 | Nkóto mínei nkámá míbalé ná zómi ná motóba |

9,999 | Nkóto libwá ná nkámá libwá ná ntúkú libwá ná libwá |

### 2.5. Ten Thousands

#### 2.5.1. Simple numbers

Lingala has a particular word for the ten thousand. Indeed, ten thousands are formed by setting the multiplier digit after the word Mokoko*. As the tens, hundreds, and thousands, the exception is *for ten thousand itself.

**From multiplier digit 2, mokoko has to be put into plural: mikoko.**

#### 2.5.2. Compound numbers

As seen previously, each group of numbers is linked to the others with *ná*.

Numeral | Cardinal |

1,0000 | Mokoko |

2,0000 | Mikoko míbalé |

3,0000 | Mikoko mísató |

4,0000 | Mikoko mínei |

5,0000 | Mikoko mítáno |

6,0000 | Mikoko motóba |

7,0000 | Mikoko sámbó |

8,0000 | Mikoko mwámbe |

9,0000 | Mikoko libwá |

**10000 cardinal numbers**

Numeral | Cardinal |

1, 0216 | Mokoko ná nkámá míbalé ná zómi ná motóba |

14,036 | Mokoko ná ntúkú mísató mínei |

40,216 | Mikoko mínei ná nkámá míbalé ná zómi ná motóba |

44,216 | Mikoko mínei ná nkóto mínei nkámá míbalé ná zómi ná motóba |

99,999 | Mikoko libwá ná Nkóto libwá ná nkámá libwá ná ntúkú libwá ná libwá |

### 2.6. Hundreds of thousand

#### 2.6.1. Simple numbers

Lingala has a particular word for the hundreds of thousands. Indeed, hundreds of thousands are formed by setting the multiplier digit after the word Elúndu*. As the tens, hundreds, and other thousands, the exception is *for hundred thousand itself.

**From multiplier digit 2, Elúndu has to be put into plural: Bilúndu.**

Numeral | Cardinal |

1,00000 | Elúndu |

2,00000 | Bilúndu míbalé |

3,00000 | Bilúndu mísató |

4,00000 | Bilúndu mínei |

5,00000 | Bilúndu mítáno |

6,00000 | Bilúndu motóba |

7,00000 | Bilúndu sámbó |

8,00000 | Bilúndu mwámbe |

9,00000 | Bilúndu libwá |

**100000 cardinal numbers**

#### 2.6.2. Compound numbers

As seen previously, each group of numbers is linked to the others with *ná*.

Numeral | Cardinal |

1, 00216 | Elúndu ná nkámá míbalé ná zómi ná motóba |

14,0036 | Elúndu ná Mikoko mínei ná ntúkú mísató mínei |

400216 | Bilúndu mínei ná nkámá míbalé ná zómi ná motóba |

440216 | Bilúndu mínei ná Mikoko mínei ná nkámá míbalé ná zómi ná motóba |

999999 | Bilúndu libwá ná Mikoko libwá ná nkóto libwá ná nkámá libwá ná ntúkú libwá ná libwá |

### 2.7. Millions

#### 2.7.1. Simple numbers

Lingala has different words to say millions. Millions are formed by setting the multiplier digit after the word Efúku, épúná, or makiasi. The same rules apply than for thousands

**From multiplier digit 2, you need to put in plural. Efúku becomes bifúku and , épúná becomes bipúná. Only makiasi stay the same.**

Numeral | Cardinal Efúku | Cardinal épúná | Cardinal makiasi |

1,000000 | Efúku | Épúná | Makiasi |

2,000000 | Bifúku míbalé | Bipúná míbalé | Makiasi míbalé |

3,000000 | Bifúku mísató | Bipúná mísató | Makiasi mísató |

**Millions cardinal numbers**

#### 2.7.2. Tens and hundreds of millions

Coming soon. You already know how to count until millions!

**A quick and practical guide to count in Lingala**.

Enter your email address and we will send you a free cheat sheet to easily start counting now.

## 3. How to count ordinal number in Lingala

Ordinal numbers indicate the order of a collection of things within a list, defining the position of something in a series. Ordinal numbers are used as adjectives, nouns, and pronouns.

Lingala creates ordinal numbers by adding the word ya before the number. The exception is for first created by connecting the word moko is the word liboso or just using the word yambo.

There is no way to shorten the ordinal number in Lingala like in French 1er or English 1^{st} for first. We have suggested a simple way to do that by adding “ya” superscripted after the number.

Numeral | Cardinal | Ordinal | Abbreviation suggested |

1 | Mókó | Ya libosó, yambo | 1^{ya} |

2 | Míbalé | Ya míbalé | 2^{ya} |

3 | Mísató | Ya mísató | 3^{ya} |

4 | Mínei | Ya mínei | 4^{ya} |

5 | Mítáno | Ya mítáno | 5^{ya} |

6 | Motóba | Ya motóba | 6^{ya} |

7 | Sámbó, nsámbó | Ya sámbó, | 7^{ya} |

8 | Mwámbe | Ya mwámbe | 8^{ya} |

9 | Libwá | Ya libwá | 9^{ya} |

99 | Ntúkú libwá ná libwá | Ya Ntúkú libwá ná libwá | 99^{ya} |

1000 | Nkóto | Ya Nkóto | 1000^{ya} |

**Ordinal numbers**

As you see, counting in Lingala may seem at first intimidating. In contrast to some western languages, like French or English, Lingala numbers have regular number naming, which makes them straightforward to understand.

Some study even showed that learning to count in more regular languages should be easier for children than learning to count in less regular languages. So you can now start teaching your child how to count in Lingala!

We also suggested a new way and simple of writing an ordinal number in Lingala. We hope you will enjoy using it!

As every new skills, there is a learning curve. Once, you get the mechanisms, it will become easy as ABC!

We have a converter to help you to learn to how count in Lingala. You can find it here.

Sources:

There are few sources on how to count in Lingala, especially in English. I was fortunate enough to rely on the exhaustive work done by Gampoko DUMA DI BULA in his book” Dictionnaire étymologique lingala – français / français – lingala”.

**Did you know that it was possible to count so far in Lingala? If no, are you ready to learn? We would be delighted to see your progress in the comment section!**