Numbers
As you go through old records, there will always be a date present. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how numbers and dates work in Portuguese.
Numbers
In Portuguese records, there are two main types of numbers used to express figures and dates. The first group of numbers used in Portuguese records is the set of roman numerals. Even though they may show some variations from the ones still used today, they are also usually easy to read. The researcher must be aware of the common use of some lower-case letters to represent the roman numerals, for example, iii instead of III.
We recommend that the researcher check other records written by the same scribe to ensure the correct reading of a particular number. Check the chart of roman numerals below.
Some of the older documents you look at may use the following symbol:
This "U" like character signifies the space between the thousands place and the hundreds place.
For example:
or "1 U DXCI" would be 1591.
Before the "U," the scribe may place a "1" instead of an "M" (such as with our 1591 example.)
The second and most relevant types of numbers are Arabic numerals, which are the most widely used today. These are usually easy to read, but some are sometimes confusing because their shape could be similar to other numbers, such as 1 and 7 or 5 and 9. Here are some examples:
When dating documents, most records will use Cardinal Numerals (one, two, three) or Ordinal Numerals (first, second, third). When using Cardinal numbers, it is necessary to know that Portuguese places an e (&) between every number after twenty, e.g., vinte e um twenty & one or cento e trinta e três one hundred & thirty & three. A notable exception is between the thousands and hundred if there are other numbers, e.g., mil e cem 1,100 as opposed to mil cento e vinte 1,120. It is also important to note that in many older documents will have he instead of e.
Below is a basic guide to numbers you may encounter in Portuguese records:
Arabic |
Roman |
Cardinal |
Ordinal |
1 |
I |
um^{m}/uma^{f} |
primeiro |
2 |
II |
dois^{m}/duas^{f} |
segundo |
3 |
III |
três |
terceiro |
4 |
IV |
quatro |
quarto |
5 |
V |
cinco |
quinto |
6 |
VI |
seis |
sexto |
7 |
VII |
sete |
sétimo |
8 |
VIII |
oito |
oitavo |
9 |
IX |
nove |
nono |
10 |
X |
dez |
décimo |
11 |
XI |
onze |
décimo primero/undécimo |
12 |
XII |
doze |
décimo segundo/duodécimo |
13 |
XIII |
treze |
décimo treceiro/tredécimo |
14 |
XIV |
quatroze/catorze |
décimo quarto |
15 |
XV |
quinze |
décimo quinto |
16 |
XVI |
dezesseis |
décimo sexto |
17 |
XVII |
dezessete |
décimo sétimo |
18 |
XVIII |
dezoito |
décimo oitavo |
19 |
XIX |
deznove |
décimo nono |
20 |
XX |
vinte |
vigésimo |
21 |
XXI |
vinte e um/uma |
vigésimo primero |
22 |
XXII |
vinte e dois/duas |
vigésimo segundo |
23 |
XXIII |
vinte e três |
vigésimo treceiro |
30 |
XXX |
trinta |
trigésimo |
31 |
XXX1 |
trinta e um/uma |
trigésimo primero |
32 |
XXXII |
trinta e dois/duas |
trigésimo segundo |
33 |
XXXIII |
trinta três |
trigésimo treceiro |
40 |
XXXX |
quarenta |
quadragésimo |
50 |
L |
cinquenta/cinqüenta |
quindragésimo |
60 |
LX |
sessenta |
sexagésimo |
70 |
LXX |
setenta |
septuagésimo |
80 |
LXXX |
oitenta |
octogésimo |
90 |
XC |
noventa |
nonagésimo |
100 |
C |
cem (cento…) |
centésimo |