# A fraction of 9/10

#### NickJunior

##### Senior Member
Greetings Members of the English-language Forum,

At a gas station, the gasoline price per gallon is always listed, for example, as \$1.33 9/10. While I understand that it reads 1 dollar and 33 cents, what does 9/10 actually mean? How does the fraction 9/10 come into an existence anyway when .03 cent is the smallest number already. Thank you before hand for your explanation.

• #### kentix

##### Senior Member
The price is \$1.339 per gallon. You pay to the nearest penny when the number of gallons is multiplied by the price per gallon. It's been that way for decades.

This is for the U.S. of course. I don't know what other countries do.

#### sdgraham

##### Senior Member
9/10 - .9 cents (.009 dollars)
It's been traditionally used to make gasoline appear cheaper than it would be. In today's world where gasoline costs more than \$3.00 a gallon, it's silly.
Back when gasoline cost 20 cents a gallon or so, it might have had the desired effect.

#### kentix

##### Senior Member
A website I read said that it originated from the government adding a 0.3 cents per gallon tax onto 15 cent gasoline. So the companies just passed it on as 15.3 cents. They thought a 1 cent was rise was too much. After that, it drifted into the "it looks cheaper" zone. But I don't see how it really makes much difference. I'm not going to change how much gas I buy if it's \$2.849 vs. \$2.85. You need as much gas as you need these days. All stations do it so it doesn't make any difference when comparing stations either.

Why do gas prices end in 9/10 of a cent? - Marketplace

#### SwissPete

##### Senior Member
[...] when .03 cent is the smallest number already.
It is not. The last 9, in this case, is the smallest number.

For 1 gallon, you pay \$1.34; for 10 gallons, you pay \$13.39.

As others have said, it's silly, but when it started, a tenth of a penny made a big difference.

I have also (but not lately) seen prices ending in 4/10 of a penny: \$1.334. Just to be a tad chaper than at the next station, I guess...
____________________________________

Here is an old sign:

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#### natkretep

##### Moderato con anima (English Only)
Think of this as just a marketing ploy. That is why some places sell goods that end with .99 or .95.

Petrol and diesel prices in the UK also end with some fraction of a penny.

Only here, it's put in as a decimal rather than a fraction, but the effect is the same.

This is similar in Singapore.

#### RM1(SS)

##### Senior Member
.03 cent is the smallest number already.
How does ".03 cents" come into this?

#### NickJunior

##### Senior Member
Thanks to all the replies. So what I need to understand is that \$1.33 9/10 actually means \$1.339 or \$1.34. Got it.

#### kentix

##### Senior Member
9/10 is 9/10 of a cent (= 9/10 of \$0.01) = 0.9 cents = 0.009 dollars = \$0.009

\$1.33 +
\$0.009
_______
\$1.339

\$1.339 x 10 gallons = \$13.39
\$1.33 x 10 gallons = \$13.30
\$1.34 x 10 gallons = \$13.40

#### Edinburgher

##### Senior Member
\$1.33 9/10 actually means \$1.339
Exactly. One dollar, 33 cents, and nine tenths (of a cent); or one dollar and 33.9 cents.
or \$1.34.
Not quite. If you buy 10 gallons, it will cost \$13.39, not \$13.40.
In practice, of course, they will always round up to the nearest cent, so if you buy any amount less than 10 gallons, you will end up paying the same as if it had been priced at \$1.34 per gallon.

cross-posted

#### sdgraham

##### Senior Member
The essence of all of this good discussion is that 'price' is an abstraction i.e., you cannot hold it in your hand. "Payment" usually is concrete and rounded to the nearest unit available.
Although motor fuel is the most obvious example of sub-penny pricing, it also occurs in the stock market,
See: Do stocks really trade for fractions of a penny? Sort of

#### NickJunior

##### Senior Member
I am totally impressed with the latest explanations, everyone. Thank you.

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