Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a complicated math lesson. There are actually many average daily actions that would require you to talk about fractions in Spanish. Think about if you want half of a sandwich at a deli. Maybe you want to say you only read 1/4 of a book. These typically require talking about fractions! Although some of this will seem similar to English, the grammar needed to talk about some fractions will require us to think back to what we know about Spanish grammar.
Basic fractions in Spanish
First, we’ll go over basic fractions in Spanish, starting with what each number looks like in the denominator. That’s the number on the bottom. This is how you would say each of these fractions:
- 1/2 – una mitad
- 1/3 – un tercio
- 1/4 – un cuarto
- 1/5 – un quinto
- 1/6 – un sexto
- 1/7 – un séptimo
- 1/8 – un octavo
- 1/9 – un noveno
- 1/10 – un décimo
Did you notice that starting with 1/4, the number very similar to cardinal numbers in Spanish? However, there isn’t much consistency, but there are some ways that can help you memorize them. Tercio is similar to tercero, which can help you remember it!
Beyond 1/10 (a tenth), you can create fractions by adding –avo to the end of the cardinal number. For example, 1/12 becomes un doceavo.
Numbers as adjectives
Just like with many other aspects of Spanish grammar, knowing the basic rules of adjectives will help you feel confident when using fractions in Spanish. Just like using past participles as adjectives, sometimes you would use fractions as adjectives, too.
As a noun, la mitad (de) can be used in some cases. However, if you’re describing half of something as an adjective, a word that modifies a noun, then you’d want to use medio/a. I could say “Quiero una media tortilla” if I want half of a tortilla, or “Hay medio plátano en el suelo” to indicate that there is half of a banana on the ground. Note that there is no plural form, since one half is always singular. If you had two halves, you would have one whole!