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FEATURE
A wish beyond words
Richard Cauldwell calls for
a novel way of teaching
listening skills

COLUMNS
Language Interference
Borrowings and
false friends between
Russian and English

Focus on Language
Awareness:

Introduction
Numbers
Writing and pronouncing
numbers
UK version  US version

New word of the month
New words in sport

Top Tips for the CD-ROM
MED CD and functional
language

onestopenglish.com

 

 

Numbers

This article gives information about how to say and write numbers in English. It also outlines some of the differences in the use of numbers between British and American English.

• Numbers from one to a million
• Ways of saying the number 0
• Fractions and decimals
• Writing full stops and commas in numbers
• Dates
• Money
• Phone numbers
• Route and road numbers

Numbers from one to a million

1 one
21 twenty-one
84 eighty-four
100 a/one hundred
200 two hundred
432 British English four hundred and thirty-two
American English four hundred thirty-two
1,000 a/one thousand
1,001 a/one thousand and one
1,100 one thousand one hundred/eleven hundred
2,000 two thousand
2,932 British English two thousand nine hundred and thirty-two
American English two thousand nine hundred thirty-two
3,100 three thousand one hundred
American English also thirty-one hundred
100,000 a/one hundred thousand
1,000,000 a/one million

Saying a instead of one

You can say a hundred and fifty (150), but NOT two thousand a hundred and fifty (2,150). Say two thousand one hundred and fifty. People often use a instead of one in conversation, but it is better to use one in technical contexts.

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Ways of saying the number 0

In a series of numbers:
You can pronounce 0 like the letter o, when you are giving a series of numbers such as a credit card number or a flight number. (See also the sections on phone numbers and road numbers).

In dates:
Say oh in giving the name of a year, such as 1904 ('nineteen oh four').

In mathematics, science, and technical contexts:
British English: Say nought or zero.
American English: Say zero.

In temperatures:
British English: Say zero to refer to freezing point (0° Celsius or -32° Fahrenheit).
American English: Say zero to refer to 0° Fahrenheit.

In sports, for scores of 0:
British English: Say nil.
American English: Say zero or nothing.
In tennis: Say love.

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Fractions and decimals

Fractions

½ a half
two and a half
¼ a quarter
¾ three quarters
American English also three fourths

Decimals

0.5 British English nought point five
American English zero point five
2.5 two point five
0.25 British English nought point two five
American English zero point two five
0.75 British English nought point seven five
American English zero point seven five

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Writing full stops and commas in numbers

Use a full stop (.) to separate the main part of a number from the decimal part (the part less than 1). 2.031 means 'two point nought three one'.

Say point to refer to the full stop. You can use a comma (,) in large numbers to separate the hundreds, thousands, and millions. 2,031 means 'two thousand and thirty-one'. In British English, spaces are sometimes used instead of commas (2 031).

Remember: Speakers of some other languages use (.) and (,) the other way around.

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Dates

Days and months:
British English: Write 3 June/3rd June/June 3/June 3rd. Say 'the third of June' or 'June the third'.

American English: Write June 3/June 3rd. Say 'June third'.

Writing dates as numbers
3/6 (or 03/06) means 3 June in British English, and March 6 in American English. British and American speakers put the month and day in different orders.

Saying the numbers of years

1066 ten sixty-six
1605 sixteen oh five
1776 seventeen seventy-six
1900 nineteen hundred
1999 nineteen ninety-nine
2000 (the year) two thousand
2001 two thousand and one
American English also two thousand one

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Money

These are some common ways of saying amounts of money. British speakers talk about money in the following way:

45p forty-five p or forty-five pence
£1 one pound
£1.50 one pound fifty or one fifty
£2 two pounds
£2.55 two pounds fifty-five or two fifty-five
£100 a/one hundred pounds
£115.99 a hundred and fifteen pounds, ninety-nine p/pence
£250 two hundred and fifty pounds or two fifty pounds
£2,682.74 two thousand six hundred and eighty-two pounds, seventy-four p/pence

American speakers talk about money in the following way:

45¢ forty-five cents
$1 a dollar
$1.50 a dollar fifty
$2 two dollars
$2.55 two dollars and fifty-five cents or two fifty-five
$100 a/one hundred dollars
$115.99 a/one hundred fifteen dollars and ninety-nine cents or a/one hundred fifteen, ninety-nine
$250 two hundred (and) fifty dollars or two fifty dollars
$2,682.74 two thousand six hundred eighty-two dollars and seventy-four cents

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Phone numbers

Say phone numbers as series of numbers, with pauses between the groups of numbers. For example, say 08081 570983 as oh eight oh eight one, five seven oh nine eight three.

British English: For phone numbers like 5155, people often say five one double five. For numbers like 1555, people often say one treble five or one five double five.

American English: People often say 'area code' before the first part of the number, which represents the area where they live; for example, area code five five five, six three two, nine eight two one (=(555) 632-9821).

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Route and road numbers

These are some common ways of saying the numbers of routes or roads.

British English
M1 /em/ one
M62 /em/ sixty-two
A5 /e/ five
A34 /e/ thirty-four
B1562 /bi/ one five six two

American English
101 one oh one
280 two eighty
1 highway one
5 /a/ five, interstate five

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