Ninth vs. Nineth: Even Professionals Can Go Wrong

When writing out numeric values, it’s important to know the difference between cardinal numbers and ordinal numbers. One such case will be Ninth vs Nineth. Cardinal numbers are used for counting (one, two, three), while ordinal numbers indicate position or order (first, second, third). This distinction affects the spelling of certain numeric terms. A common source of confusion is how to properly spell the word indicating the number nine in ordinal form: should it be “ninth” or “nineth“?

Ninth Is the Correct Spelling

The correct spelling is “ninth” with an -th ending. “Nineth” is not an accepted variant spelling, though it’s an easy mistake to make since many ordinal numbers end in -th (fourth, fifth, sixth, etc.).

So if you’re indicating something that comes in ninth place, be sure to use ninth. Some examples:

  • The runner finished in ninth place.
  • Today is her ninth birthday.
  • That was his ninth failed attempt.

Nineth would be incorrect in those sentences. Stick with ninth and you’ll have the proper spelling.

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Why Ninth Doesn’t Follow the Standard Number Pattern

Most ordinal numbers are formed by adding -th to the cardinal number: four becomes fourth, five becomes fifth, six becomes sixth, etc. So logically, it would make sense for nine to become nineth.

However, ninth does not follow this same conversion pattern. It irregularly drops the -e from the cardinal spelling before adding the -th ending.

This irregularity occurs because ninth follows an older Germanic pattern, not the later Roman-influenced system.

In Old English, the ordinal form was nigontha. Over time, it evolved into the modern ninth spelling.

So while it may seem counterintuitive, you should remember:

✅ Ninth (not nineth)

Getting it right may feel tricky at first, but with practice this irregular spelling should become familiar. When in doubt, double-check ordinal words in a dictionary.

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How to Remember That “Ninth” Is Correct

Here are some tips to help you recall that ninth uses an irregular spelling, not nineth:

  • Compare to fifth and sixth. Note that the ordinal spellings fifth and sixth also drop the -e from the cardinal numbers. Remembering this parallel can help the ninth spelling feel less unusual.
  • Say it out loud. Practicing aloud can help the proper pronunciation and spelling stick. Emphasizing the “nth” sound as you say “ninth” distinctly will help cement the correct version in your mind.
  • Use mnemonic devices. Come up with a catchy phrase or acronym to associate with the accurate spelling. For example, “Ninth is right, nineth’s blight!” or “No ‘e’ in ninth!”
  • Visualize it written. Picture clearly seeing the correct spelling ninth used properly in sentences. Imagining the right variant will help override memories of the incorrect one.

With a bit of effort, the irregular ninth spelling can become second nature. It just takes awareness and memory aids. Be diligent about double-checking ordinals when writing to catch any instances of nineth. Soon, you’ll get the hang of this number quirk.

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Examples in Sentences

Here are some example sentences properly using the ninth spelling:

  • In the ninth century, the Vikings began invading England.
  • The ninth sequel in the superhero movie franchise debuts next summer.
  • My daughter Alice celebrated her ninth birthday yesterday.
  • The jury was still deadlocked after ninth days of deliberation on the complex case.
  • Jake set a new personal record, finishing the 10K race in just under ninth minutes.

You can see that ninth fits correctly in various contexts – from chronological order to sequence counts. Meanwhile, “nineth” would stand out as glaringly wrong in all those sentence examples.

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In summary, ninth is the proper spelling for the ordinal form of the number nine. Nineth is inaccurate, though the error is understandable since most ordinal numbers end in -th.

To get ninth right:

✅ Remember the irregular spelling doesn’t follow the cardinal conversion pattern.

✅ Compare it to fifth/sixth which also drop the -e.

✅ Practice saying and visualizing “ninth” to cement the variant.

✅ Use memory devices like acronyms or wordplay.

With concerted effort, ninth can become etched in your mind as the undisputed spelling convention. Whenever you indicate order or sequence of nine, be sure to consistently use ninth. That will ensure your writing remains accurate.

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