# What Is a Natural Number?

A natural number is a whole number from 1 upwards:

Mathematicians use the symbol to represent the set of natural numbers.

#### Dictionary Definition

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a natural number as "a positive whole number (1, 2, 3, etc.)"

# Natural Numbers As Counting Numbers

A natural number is a counting number.

Natural numbers are the numbers you would use to count objects.

# Natural Numbers on the Number Line

The image below shows the natural numbers on the number line.

Note: The natural numbers are whole numbers only. They are not found in between the numbers shown.

# Natural Numbers, Whole Numbers and Integers

The difference between natural numbers, whole numbers and integers can be quite confusing.

Remember,
• Natural numbers start from 1: {1, 2, 3 ...}
• Whole numbers start from 0: {0, 1, 2, 3 ...}
• Integers have negative numbers: {-3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3 ...}

##### Interactive Test
show

Here's a second test on natural numbers.
Here's a third test on natural numbers.

# What Natural Numbers Are

Natural numbers are positive integers.

# What Natural Numbers Are Not

Natural numbers are not negative (such as -1) and are not fractions (part of a whole number, such as ½ or 0.3).

# What Natural Numbers Are (Usually) Not

0 is (usually) not a natural number.

A child learning to count would not count zero objects.

(Some mathematicians do count 0 as a natural number. We do not. The idea of 0 is more abstract and less natural - it was invented later. If you include 0, you have the whole numbers).