Twelveth Vs Twelfth: What’s The Correct One To Use?

Maybe you caught yourself occasionally writing the term “twelve” as “twelfth” or seen it written both ways across the internet. Then you questioned yourself, which is the correct one to use and why? Well, you’re not the only person asking themselves this question since other people tend to have that same inquiry.

To best answer this question, we need to know the definitions of both words. “Twelfth” refers to the ordinal number twelve as in sequence or position. On the contrary, “twelveth” is incorrect, and some sources claim it is the “archaic” version of this word. 

This article will discuss the best way to differentiate these terms from one another, their definition and history, grammatical explanations in order to understand which is the correct one to use, examples with sentences, and their etymology.

Definition Of The Terms And Their Usage

Regarding the definition, “twelfth” is often used as an adjective to describe or write the number twelve as in a sequence or position and is usually preceded by eleven numbers. According to the Cambridge Academy Dictionary, it can also be utilized as a noun to enumerate “one of twelve equal parts of a whole.”

Its usage relies on being able to list a series of things that count to the number twelve. A typical example is for dates, order, positions, places, and time periods.

number 12 in golden ballons

However, “twelveth” is the incorrect and archaic spelling of this word since it doesn’t comply with the corresponding pronunciation. It is often confused since it comes from the word “twelve”, and people tend to believe that this is a proper form of writing it. Despite this, it all relies on the spelling and how that contributes to the way it is written. 

Many people have debated this topic throughout internet forums, but this article recompiles the most critical and relevant information in order to clear this uncertainty.

Grammatical Explanation And Pronunciation

If we took as a reference the grammar rules for ordinal numbers as adjectives and used them to list elements in a sequence, the correct spellings go as follows:

  • 11th- Eleventh
  • 12th – Twelfth
  • 13th – Thirteenth

The spelling is primarily based on syllabic pronunciation. As you know, the number 12 spells “twelve.” Numerals like 1,2,3 have idiosyncrasies regarding their adjective form “first,” “second,” and “third.” After the number five, the “-ve” is abbreviated as an “f” like in “fifth place.” 

The same thing happens with “twelve” because it was simplified for a more straightforward pronunciation, using the letter “f.” 

The reason for this common misconception is because of the presence of the letter “f” in the term “twelfth,” which is the essential part of the word. Basically, this letter is silent when pronouncing “twelfth” and acts as a replacement for the “v” sound, which is pretty hard to distinguish since the pronunciation and sound can be formed by the lips and teeth.

In addition to this, the “th” sound is voiceless, and it conditions the sound before it becomes silent. This is why “twelve” in a combination of “th,” the “v” sound becomes voiceless, and it transforms into an “f” sound which linguistically is the exact same sound, just inaudible. It reflects the evolution of the English language and how phonetics, in this case, changed the spelling of the word.

Examples With Sentences

Now that we have done a brief overview of the grammatical and pronunciation aspects of the term “twelfth,” we can put what we learned into practice by using the word in sentences.

Examples with the word “twelfth.”

  1. She is planning a huge themed party for her mother, whose birthday is the twelfth of December.
  2. The company’s twelfth year anniversary was an unforgettable event with eminent figures and entrepreneurs from all over the country.
  3. The results of the twelfth survey on the impact of social media on teenagers showed that many of the participants agreed with the psychological effects it has on younger people.
  4. The crusades reached their peak during the twelfth century.
  5. The virtual career fair will take place on the twelfth of this month and end on the twentieth.
  6. I’m the twelfth person in the waiting line at the bank, but they have barely passed number five.
  7. The British Empire tried to colonize Ireland in the twelfth century.
  8. The twelfth century is considered the high middle ages in European history and is often called “the Age of the Cistercians.”
  9. The number of nobles increased throughout the twelfth century.
  10. Epiphany, or often called “The Three Kings Festive,” is celebrated on the twelfth of January.
  11. It was the twelfth night without his girlfriend since she left for Germany to get her business administration major.
  12. I remember my twelfth birthday like it was yesterday. I have a beautiful aquamarine birthday cake with Oreos on top.
  13. According to the article, around twenty percent of tenth to twelfth grades tend not to finish high school and drop out.
  14. Twelfth grade is the best year of high school since you are making a transition to college and getting a taste of adult life.
  15. He won twelfth place in the annual marathon near his neighborhood. 
  16. Yesterday I received the news that I’m the twelfth player on the football team and I will be getting the uniform next week.
  17. In the twelfth year, the company’s revenue increased by twenty percent.
  18. A fun fact is that Baja California is the twelfth largest state in the area of Mexico.
  19. It is the twelfth movie I watched in the entire week, and I enjoyed it.
  20. This is the twelfth job I applied to, and I hope I receive the call to let me know that I’m hired.

Now, here are some sentences examples but with the word “twelve”:

  1. When my brother turned twelve years old, he asked for a play station and new controllers.
  2. Her sister turned twelve this summer, and they had a huge pool party with all of her school friends.
  3. More than twelve thousand dollars have been lost after the robbery that happened last month. The police believe that the thief is an employee of the company.
  4. The insurance company’s sales increased by twelve percent at the end of the year, which shows how effective the marketing strategy is.
  5. Many people tend to think she is twelve years old when in reality, she is eighteen years old.

Etymology

twelfth word in the dictionary

Twelfth

This term is defined as “next in order after the eleventh” or “an ordinal number,” which surfaced around the late fourteenth century. It has the “th,” which is an altering of Middle English “twelfte,” Old English “twelfta,” from “twelf.” 

The earlier form of this word is from Old Norse “tolfti,” Danish “tolvte,” and German “zwolfte.”

As a noun, meaning “twelfth part,” it originated from the 1550s and became widespread after “Twelfth Night,” the Christian holiday that counts the twelve days after Christmas.

Twelve

It is defined as “one more than eleven” and is used as a symbol to represent this number. It comes from Old English “twelf,” which means “two left” or “over ten.” There is also some traces from Proto-Germanic “twa-lif-,” Old Saxon “twelif,” Middle Dutch “twalef,” Old High German “zwelif” and Gothic “twalif.”

Conclusion

To sum up, it can be concluded that “twelveth” and “twelfth” can be commonly confused with each other for their similar pronunciation to the word “twelve,” which references the number.

However, according to various internet sources and dictionaries, “twelfth” is the correct spelling since it refers to the ordinal number and series of something regarding place or position. On the contrary, the term “twelve” is an archaic spelling and doesn’t exist in dictionaries, making it an incorrect choice.

The reason why is because the letters,” “v” and “f” have a similar sound that becomes voiceless, just like with the “th” sound. As the English language evolved, phonetics changed the word’s spelling, making it easier to pronounce it by writing it as “twelfth.”

By Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.