In this Issue
Letters to the Editor
Write to Us
Spread the Word
Back Issues

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

Language Interference
Borrowings and
false friends between
Russian and English

Focus on Language

Writing and pronouncing
UK version  US version

New word of the month
New words in sport

Top Tips for the CD-ROM
MED CD and functional




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 American and British English.

• Numbers from One to a Million
• Ways of Saying the Number 0
• Fractions and Decimals
• Writing Periods 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 American English four hundred thirty-two
British English four hundred and 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 American English two thousand nine hundred thirty-two
British English two thousand nine hundred and 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.


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:
American English: Say zero.
British English: Say nought or zero.

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

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


Fractions and Decimals


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


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


Writing Periods and Commas in Numbers

Use a period (.) to separate the main part of a number from the decimal part (the part that is less than 1). 2.031 means "two point zero three one".

Say point to refer to the period. 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.



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

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

Writing dates as numbers
3/6 (or 03/06) means March 6 in American English, and 3 June in British 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



These are some common ways of saying amounts of money. 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

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


Phone Numbers

Say phone numbers as series of numbers, with pauses between the groups of numbers. For example, say 555-8473 as five five five eight four seven three or five five five, eighty-four seventy-three; and say (555) 876-0934 as five five five, eight seven six, oh nine three four.

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).

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.


Route and Road Numbers

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

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

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