The mom admitted she’d gone more than 30 years without realizing

From the date on the calendar to your school grade, the sequence of ‘1st, 2nd, 3rd…’ is something that’s ingrained in us from a young age.

There’s an abbreviation for every number, and while it doesn’t exactly save a lot of time when it comes to writing it out, it does make the number part that bit clearer.

Like the rest of us, mom-of-two Gemma was used to seeing these abbreviations – but she explained on TikTok that she’d never really thought about why the abbreviations ended in the letters they did.

There’s no consistency between the first four numbers – 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th – but then we get a bit of repetition when we hit ‘5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th’.

For decades, Gemma had just accepted that these abbreviations were fact – but when she hit 32 years old, she realized there’s actually a reason each number has the suffix that it does.

Gemma was truly baffled by the revelation.


In a post on TikTok, she explained: “At my big age of 32 I have just learnt that the “st” in 1st, “nd” in 2nd and “rd” in 3rd are because they are the last letters of the words “first” and so forth.

“I don’t think I ever put any thought into it until now.”

The mom accompanied her video with a series of mind-blown emojis, making clear that this was a really big revelation for her.

However, she isn’t the only person who was in the dark about the abbreviations.

Gemma’s clip quickly racked up millions of views after being shared on TikTok, and viewers commented to share in her shock.

Gemma wasn't alone in the discovery.


“I only just found this out by watching this. I’m 29,” one person commented.

Another wrote: “I’m 64 and I only just realised that from this TikTok! You got to love TikTok.”

In case you too were in the dark about the abbreviations, Gemma is right in her explanation.

The first four numbers all change their suffix because they end in different letters – first, second, third, fourth.

It’s the last two letters of the word that are used to complete the abbreviation, which is why the sequence from 5th-10th all end in ‘th’ – because the numbers do too.

It’s a pretty simple explanation, but it was obviously enough to bypass Gemma. Better to learn late than never though!

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