# How should one read 0,0000000004%?

#### audiolaik

##### Senior Member
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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• #### envie de voyager

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

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

#### audiolaik

##### Senior Member
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.

#### Au101

##### Senior Member
Also, we use a decimal point instead of a comma, i.e.:

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

#### mighty_atlas

##### Banned
4 in a trillion

#### ewie

##### Senior Member
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
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
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.

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.

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.

#### ewie

##### Senior Member
someone just trying to make up a really really small number
In which case you'd be justified in 'pronouncing' it practically zilch.