Numerals and quantifiers

As nouns Standard Nûrlâm do not have grammatical category of number, numerals and quantifier words are used more often than in majority of real world languages for the purpose of clarification.

Numbers in Black Speech have no inflection in case or any other grammar form. However some case suffixes have special meaning (see below). They can be used alone without noun in place of subject or object.

Numerals precede nouns even in Classical Black Speech ("ash nazg …"). As you can see, numerals require Nominative or Accusative case (unlike Russian or Finnish which require genitive and partitive case accordingly). However it's recommended to place numbers after noun if it contains clitic case postpositions. In other words numerals generally precede subjects and objects in accusative but follow objects in other cases.

Nûrlâm uses decimal numeral system (10 as base) as in majority of real world and in Sindarin language. Quenya has duodecimal system (base 12), but there is no reason to copy this feature, archaic for Middle-Earth, into Black Speech.

Basic numbers

The ordinary counting numbers (cardinals) are given in the table below:

Number Black Speech
1 ash
2 krul
3 krig
4 hant
5 krâk
6 ink
7 udug
8 skri
9 krith
10 nuk
100 tusk
1000 mink

Negative particle “nar” (no) is used to express zero. There is no special words for greater numbers.

Forming of numbers greater than 10

Numbers from 11 to 19 are formed as nu(k)<digit> with -k- at the joint of the words being often reduced for better pronunciation. 11 and 12 have no special words.

Number 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Black Speech nukash nukrul nukrig nukhant nukrâk nukink nukudug nuskri nukrith

Multiples of ten are formed as <multiplier>nuk:

Number 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
Black Speech krulnuk krignuk hantnuk krâknuk inknuk udugnuk skrinuk krithnuk

Hundreds are formed regularily as <multiplier>tusk. Similarly thousands are made as <multiplier>mink. Millions can be expressed as <multiplier>minkmink (lit. thousands of thousand). The word “agh” (and) separates every exponent of ten.


To translate the number 16384 into Black Speech we express it as: (10 + 6)x1000 + 3×100 + 80 + 4. Thus it becomes “nukink mink agh krigtusk agh skrinuk agh hant”.

Numbers and plural nouns

As all nouns are plural by default in Standard Nûrlâm, the word “ash” (one) has special meaning. It denotes that noun is singular, so it's used very often and sometimes translated into English with indefinite article “a/an”. In colloquial speech, where nouns become singular and grammatical category of number was added (with plural suffix or -z), any number greater than one makes the noun plural. Anyway numerals affects verbs in 3rd person in both stages of language.

Other forms

Ordinal numbers are formed by adding suffix -ûrz therefore technically they are adjectives. The only special form of ordinal is âshûrz (“the first”) with first a becoming long. Ordinals are also used to express fractions together with noun in genitive. Example: ash krigûrz gaub = one third of fruit. Please notice that phrase “one of three fruits” is translated as “ash krig gaub” or better “ash gaub krig” (lit. one of fruits three)

Multiplicatives are formed by making an adverb using the suffix -arz (so krularz = two times/twice).

Distributive numbers are formed by instrumental case suffix -irzi, e.g. hantirzi = by four(s), ashirzi = one by one.

Subsets are formed by putting the noun/pronoun in genitive case without changing the cardinal number (“I see three of them” = “Dakin krig takob”).


Some words (usually adjectives and indefinite pronouns) are used instead of exact numbers. They behave like adjectives or adverbs. Single-syllable quantifiers may become clitic joined to the end of the word, but it's recommended to place them before described words. Because Standard Nûrlâm lacks grammatical category of number, quantifiers are used frequently for clarification of number. Black Speech don't distinguish countable and uncountable nouns, so phrases like “much water”, “a lot of meat” and “many ropes” will be translated using the same word “mak” as “mak nîn”, “mak âps” and “mak krimp”. Common words include: mak (many, much, lot), mûd (few, some), ûk (all). More quantifier words can be found in articles about pro-forms and word lists.

See also

grammar_numerals.txt · Last modified: 2023/02/11 09:59 by morgoth