Roman Numerals

Roman numerals in French
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Chiffres romains

Roman numerals are used far more often in French than in English, as both cardinal numbers and ordinal numbers.* They are commonly used to express all of the following:


le IIe arrondissement 2nd district
le XVIIIe arrondissement 18th district

Book terminology

introduction p. vi introduction, page 6
volume III volume 3
appendice V appendix 5
titre xi title 11

Divisions of plays

Acte I Act 1
Scène II Scene 2

Events and assemblies

les jeux de la XXIXe Olympiade Games of the 29th Olympiad
IIIe Sommet de l’APF Third summit of the APF


la Ve République the 5th Republic
la XXe dynastie the 20th dynasty

Music and poetry: verses and stanzas

couplet II verse 2
strophe V stanza 5

Proper names

Pope John Paul II Pope John Paul II
Louis XIV Louis the 14th

Time periods

XVIe siècle 16th century
trimestre II second quarter
IIIe millénaire third millenium


Especially in official documents and on monuments

établi MMIX established 2009
© MMXVII © 2017

 * I’m not saying you can’t ever use Roman numerals like this in English, but they are far less common than in French, especially for ordinal numbers. Terms like Xe siècle will virtually always be translated as “10th century.”

 More French numbers

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French Roman numerals

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1 Response

  1. Boisvert 22 February 2017 / 12:52

    Le plus grand chiffre romain est : MMMCMXCIX = 3999
    On ne peut pas utiliser plus de 3 lettres : MMM = 3000
    Et il n’existe pas de lettre pour écrire le nombre 4000 !