How to read decimals

aria_86

New Member
Argentina- Castellano
Hi to everyone! Last week I came up with a doubt about how to read decimals.

Up to what I know, anumber like this "10.890" is read: ten POINT eight hundred and ninety.

HOWEVER, one person told me that I shouldnt read it with "POINT" as it is not correct... The book and the theory tell me that I should use it.... therefore I´m in ttwo minds which of the two options is the correct one, or if by using POINT I'm being colloquial and by omitting it I may be using a more "street-like" slang.

Thanks in advance!!! :)
 
  • Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    What did this other person say you should be using? And was this person a native-English-speaker?

    To the best of my knowledge, the use of "point" is just fine. The only qualification that I would make is that I, personally, would say "ten point eight nine oh".
     

    aria_86

    New Member
    Argentina- Castellano
    Thanks for your comment!!!

    No, it's not really a native speaker. It's simply someone who lived in the United States for a couple of years and told me that.

    That's why I wondered if by not using point it was a way to simplyfy the language for the everyday's usage of this one...

    Apparently I can say so... can't I??
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    You still haven't told us what the alternative is. Is this person saying that you should ignore the decimal altogether? This wouldn't make sense as you would then be saying "ten, eight ninety".

    Your use of "point" is absolutely correct and I'm afraid that the person who told you otherwise is wrong.
     

    kalamazoo

    Senior Member
    US, English
    I also would say "point eight nine oh" or "point eight nine zero" instead of "eight hundred and ninety" which doesn't seem correct to me.
     

    aria_86

    New Member
    Argentina- Castellano
    well DIMCL, the funny thing is that the person told me that nothing is said... This is, for the following number 9.10, one would say nine ten, which makes no sense to me, instead of nine point ten. So having realized that I'm not the only person that thinks that the use of "point" is incorrect I will continue using it...
     

    kalamazoo

    Senior Member
    US, English
    Maybe your friend was thinking of height, where we would say "5,10" but that is not a "point" but rather means five feet 10 inches.
     

    SwissPete

    Senior Member
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    It's OK to omit the "point" in come cases. If the context is clear that you are talking about money, then you can say "ten eighty nine" to mean 10 dollars and 89 cents.
     

    kalamazoo

    Senior Member
    US, English
    I think the rule is more likely that you don't say "point" when one number is in one unit (feet or dollars) and the following number is in a different unit (inches or cents). We wouldn't say "I owed him ten point five dollars" because we don't talk about decimal dollars as a rule.
     

    ms291052

    Member
    English - USA
    Theoretically you're not supposed to pronounce the point but instead say 10.89 as "ten and eighty-nine (one) hundredths" and 9.1 as "Nine and one tenth," or at least so I was taught in school.

    That said, 99% of people just pronounce the "point" and then read off the following digits one by one: "ten point eight nine" and "nine point one".

    The notable exceptions are height and money as has been stated above.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Theoretically you're not supposed to pronounce the point but instead say 10.89 as "ten and eighty-nine (one) hundredths" and 9.1 as "Nine and one tenth," or at least so I was taught in school.
    I think that is exclusively a US practice. It "fails" for numbers such as 3.141589. In the UK it was taught to us in italics just as in your following example.
    That said, 99% of people just pronounce the "point" and then read off the following digits one by one: "ten point eight nine" and "nine point one".

    The notable exceptions are height and money as has been stated above.
    You do hear "three point one billion dollars" but for feet and inches, the point would be incorrect because the units aren't decimal.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    0.04 - the coursebook I use at school says this should be read as "nought point oh four" - How come the zeros are read differently in one number? Would you say so?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    0.04 - the coursebook I use at school says this should be read as "nought point oh four" - How come the zeros are read differently in one number? Would you say so?
    What is the book? I personally would not mix and match like that. That number would just be "point oh four" in my daily life conversations (I had many in a science career:))
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    That is Oxford Solutions Intermediate. The students are supposed to read out the numbers and then the teacher plays a CD with a native speaker saying them.

     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    That is Oxford Solutions Intermediate. The students are supposed to read out the numbers and then the teacher plays a CD with a native speaker saying them.
    Then if you want to pass the exam, you need to know how the book or teacher specifies it. There is more than one way (as is usually the case in English). Zero, nought (never naught!) and oh are all possible for the 0 character. When I grew up in England, I used to say things like nought point nought four. Nowadays I no longer use nought (it's BE and I communicate with AE speakers) so I might say zero point zero four or, most often just point oh four (it's the fewest syllables:))
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I used to say things like nought point nought four. Nowadays I no longer use nought (it's BE and I communicate with AE speakers) so I might say zero point zero four or, most often just point oh four (it's the fewest syllables:))
    And why not point zero four?
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    0.04 - the coursebook I use at school says this should be read as "nought point oh four" - How come the zeros are read differently in one number? Would you say so?
    In BE (British English) the number 0 is usually "nought".
    In AE (American English) the number 0 is usually "zero".

    You can say 0.04 as "four hundredths" in AE. But if use the "point" version, you should say the whole number (the number to the left of the decimal point). That number is "nought" or "zero". In a string of digits you can say "oh", but not for single number.
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    In BE (British English) the number 0 is usually "nought".
    In AE (American English) the number 0 is usually "zero".

    You say 0.04 as "four hundredths" in BE or AE. But if use the "point" version, you should say the whole number (the number to the left of the decimal point). That number is "nought" or "zero". In a string of digits you can say "oh", but not for single number.
    I never said 0.04 as "four hundredths" when I still spoke only BE (I still don't say it but I have stopped using nought). 4/100 is what would be needed to prompt that. That was the surprise when I moved to N. America - my biophysics professor advisor said "0.1 M ( molar)" as "one tenth molar".
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I've removed BE from that "You say" comment, also correcting it to "You can say" which is what was intended.

    I'll be more careful about my BE comments.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    OK, I know the British read the 0 number as 'nought', but must another 0 in a string of digits be read as oh?

    0.04 - why not 'nought point nought four' instead of 'nought point oh four' that the book suggested ?

    And what if I said oh point oh four? :) unacceptable?
     
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    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    No, to me 0.04 is nought point nought four or zero point zero four. The internal ones can informally be ohs: 1.04 is one point nought four, one point zero four, or one point oh four. But the integer part can't be oh, and if you start with "0." it is surely better to continue reading the decimal 0's the same way: they're all noughts or all zeroes.

    Oh can also be used when you omit the integer part: .04 can be point oh four.
     

    Xyz123456

    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    In Britain most people would prounce 0.04 as "Nought point nought four". And yet if it's 6.902 we would say "six point nine oh two".

    And no, nobody has any idea why we do this!

    Just another of the 7,987,553,234,101 rules of English. :)
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Why didn't you mention the beginning "ten"? If you don't say the first "ten" then how should we know there is a "10" before .890?
    You are asking about a post that is eleven years old, and you have truncated it. The writer makes it quite clear what they are talking about:
    I also would say "point eight nine oh" or "point eight nine zero" instead of "eight hundred and ninety" which doesn't seem correct to me.
    There was no need for kalamazoo to mention "ten" because there is no doubt about how to pronounce it.
     
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    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I would happily say zero point oh four.

    Normally, 99+% of the time, I would say point zero four or point oh four. But if for some reason I felt the need to pronounce the leading zero I would not be overly worried about matching them. Zero point zero four or zero point oh four would be fine. They have different contexts and therefore different rules. You never lead with oh. Internally, you can use oh, if you want to. I wouldn't mix them internally.

    0.04, spoken as a pure number, I would say as point oh four or point zero four. But if it was part of a measurement of a real thing I would have no problem saying it as a fraction.

    "I measured it and it's four one-hundredths of an inch too long."

    I don't think I'd commonly say "It's point oh four inches too long."
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I would happily say zero point oh four.

    Normally, 99+% of the time, I would say point zero four or point oh four. But if for some reason I felt the need to pronounce the leading zero I would not be overly worried about matching them. Zero point zero four or zero point oh four would be fine. They have different contexts and therefore different rules. You never lead with oh. Internally, you can use oh, if you want to. I wouldn't mix them internally.

    0.04, spoken as a pure number, I would say as point oh four or point zero four. But if it was part of a measurement of a real thing I would have no problem saying it as a fraction.

    "I measured it and it's four one-hundredths of an inch too long."

    I don't think I'd commonly say "It's point oh four inches too long."
    It still remains a primarily US practice (although not all AE speakers follow that) to read numbers written in decimal format as if they were fractions. That does not happen in BE. Almost all the weather forecasters and news readers here (national and local US) do it - the local weather map may have numbers like 0.03 and 0.06 (representing rainfall in inches in differtent locations) and they are spoken as three one-hundredths and six one-hundredths. We have a wide range of climates here so the map may also have even 0.23 and 0.32 etc and these would be referred to as "a few tenths in some locations".or even "a quarter to a third of an inch". In my scientific career, I found it quite rare for AE speakers to read 1.23 in presentations and dscussions as one point twenty-three, almost always it was one point two three. So there's a wide range of frequencies across US society, likely related to how it is taught in schools.
     
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