Cent, cent un, deux cents, deux cent un…
sah, sah uh, duh sah, duh sah uh… Click below to hear this pronounced!
One hundred, one hundred one, two hundred, two hundred one…
Counting. It seems easy and obvious. One follows zero, two follows one.
But take a closer look. These numbers sound the same, but the spelling is different.
Here’s the deal: 100 is cent. Notice the absence of a one. When you say one hundred in English, you just say cent in French. But when you say two hundred in English, it’s deux cents in French–and notice the s on cents. It sounds the same, but you have to write the s.
But notice what happens when you put any other number after deux cents! The s goes away. So whether it’s 201 or 299, there’s no s after cent. It’s deux cent un or deux cent quatre-vingt-dix-neuf. Remember, that’s only true for extra digits, not for objects or people. You still say trois cents dollars, or chaises, or chapeaux, with an s.
Likewise, notice that when other digits follow cent, you don’t carry over the /t/. You slide. There’s this lovely nasal vowel in cent, and you just happily scoop from that to the nasal vowel that represents the pronunciation of un. So: cent un, without any stop or pause between the two words.
And the same thing happens when you have any hundred (cent, deux cents, trois cents, neuf cents, etc.) followed by additional digits. Winter is coming, the season of sliding and gliding on ice. So slide and glide right on over to the next number!