How should one read 0,0000000004%?

audiolaik

Senior Member
Polish
Hello,

How should one read the following number...?

"I knew that planes were very safe, that they were safer than cars...., and the chance of being in a plane accident were about 0.0000000004%."

(Source: coursebook "Straighforward", elementary level)Thank you!
 
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  • audiolaik

    Senior Member
    Polish
    This is the least clumsy way to say this:

    "...the chances of being in a plane accident were about 4 in one trillion."

    When it comes to the "s" you kindly added, I have to underline the fact that this is the original sentence, taken straight from the book.

    Thank you for your input!
     

    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    Also, we use a decimal point instead of a comma, i.e.:

    0.1 (nought "point" one)
    10,000 (ten thousand)
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I personally would read it as nought point nought nought nought nought nought nought nought nought nought four percent. I have no idea what a trillion is.
     

    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    A trillion is "one million million" (1,000,000,000,000) or "one thousand billion". In standard form that's 1x10^12
     

    Kevman

    Senior Member
    USA English
    When it comes to the "s" you kindly added, I have to underline the fact that this is the original sentence, taken straight from the book.
    the chance of being in a plane accident were about 0.0000000004%."

    (Source: coursebook "Straighforward", elementary level)
    There's a singular subject with a plural verb here. :thumbsdown:

    The singular and the plural are interchangeable in that you can either say the chance of being in a plane accident was... or the chances of being in a plane accident were..., but the subject and verb must agree.


    As to the topic question, I might say "four times ten to the negative ten percent," but that's scientific notation and might be a bit over-technical for many contexts. :eek:

    A more conventional (AE) reading would be "forty billionths of a percent." I think that's what you're looking for. The "4 in a trillion" answers given above have resolved the percentage into an odds statistic by dividing by 100, but I don't know if that's exactly what the sentence says, even though it may be mathematically equivalent.

    This might also be a case of someone just trying to make up a really really small number, and not an actual true statistic. If I were doing that in speech I would go with the AE version of ewie's suggestion: "(zero) point zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero [add as many more zeros as deemed necessary to make the point] four percent."

    At any rate, here's a nice page listing the names of very large and very small numbers, including the differences between AE and BE.
     
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