Cultural difference 2: Counting

April 8, 2010

When Germans count with their fingers, we start with the thumb for one, then the index finger for two, the middle finger for three, the ring finger for four, and then finally the pinky for five. I’m pretty sure it’s the same for French people.

Click here to watch proof that a German author can count to five 🙂

Most people in Northern America start with their index finger and the thumb only comes in as number five. I tried it, and I have to admit that the thumb holding down the pinky makes counting easier.

counting_american way

In Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds [and no, this is not a typo, the title is spelled like this], one of the characters goes undercover as a German Nazi during Word War II. He gives himself away when he orders three whiskeys by holding up his index finger, middle finger, and ring finger.

So, leave a comment to let us know where you come from and how you count to five.




  1. Childhood spent in both the U.S. and Israel, and I count starting with my thumb. It gets way more complicated when I need to take off my shoes and socks to count to 20.

  2. I start with my index finger, finishing with the thumb, I am in America.

  3. Here in Australia, I start with the thumb on the right hand.

  4. Thanks for letting us know. So Australians count the European way… or maybe Europeans count the Australian way 🙂

  5. Why viewers still use to read news papers when in this
    technological world everything is presented on net?

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