Occasionally you may see the figure 4 used by itself (without a 3). You should interpret it as a suspended 4th in the normal way, as far as possible.

This figure sometimes occurs when there are decoration notes between the 4th and its resolution to the 3rd.

In this example, the 4th is G – this is decorated with a semiquaver (16th note) figure before moving to F, which is the third in the following D minor chord.

figured bass "4"

Sometimes a 4 is used by itself when the resolution note is not the 3rd of the following chord, but the 6th. This happens when the position of the chord changes from root position to first inversion when the suspension resolves.

In this example, the 4th is E, in a root position chord of B minor. The 4th resolves in the normal way by stepping down to D. But when the D is sounded, the bass has changed to D and the chord is B minor in first inversion, with a figure 6.

figured bass 4 - 6