Home | Binary | Finger Counter | Decimal to Binary | Hexadecimal
Binary to Hex | Converter | Exercises | Binary Tables | Conversion Tables

Base Ten Counting

Humans have ten fingers (eight fingers and two thumbs to be absolutely correct).

One hand counting ...
One hand counting

Two hands counting ...
Two hands counting

The "Base Ten" counting system is 'based' on our ten fingers.

With the animation below imagine three people standing in three "places" next to each other. The one in the place on the right starts the counting sequence. When the right 'place' gets to ten, the place in the middle counts "1" to keep track of each full place on the right (i.e. each ten).

three sets of hands

Some of the key points ...


The right "place" has no fingers up.

The second place has one finger up. (The little finger.)


The right "place" has no fingers up.

The second place has two fingers up. (The little finger and ring finger.)

Each "place" in the Base Ten counting system is ten times the value of the place on the right.

The second place value is ten times the first place value.
The third place value is ten times the second place value.
and so on...

Another way to look at the pattern is to say that the place values go up in "powers" of ten.

powers of ten

NOTE: Any number raised to the power of zero is "1".

Working out the total value of two Base Ten ("Decimal") numbers of 367 and 9,720 would be ...

thousands hundreds tens ones
  3 6 7
  3 x 100 6 x 10 7 x 1


thousands hundreds tens ones
9 7 2 0
9 x 1000 7 x 100 2 x 10 0 x 1

The process above may seem very obvious to you. It should. You have been doing this sort of conversion all of your life! It is important that you understand the technique for calculating the total value of a number based on its "place" values. You will need this skill when we move on to other "bases" in the next few screens.