# How to write out the number 56.12%?

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#### riglos

##### Senior Member
Hello everyone!

How would you write the number 56.12 % according to the way it is pronounced? What I'm interested in is the part of the decimals. I've been told that after the "." (point), numbers are written one by one, separately, e.g., 17.38 % = seventeen point three eight percent. But in this case, I don't really know why but "fifty-six point one two" doesn't sound convincing. I thought that maybe up to number 13 or with numbers that are written as one word, they were still said and written that way after the comma. But these are just gut guesses, so I'll appreciate your native speakers' kind help.

Thanks a lot!

Mara.-

• #### cyberpedant

##### Senior Member
You write (or say) fifty-six point twelve percent. It would not be incorrect to say fifty-six point one two percent, but that would be less usual.

#### Chazzwozzer

##### Senior Member
My Oxford Dictionary suggests that in British English, per cent is written as two words. I think you may need this information if you write in British.

#### Kelly B

##### Senior Member
Fifty-six point one two percent is correct, but I would be equally comfortable saying fifty-six point twelve percent.

Without the word percent, I would be comfortable pronouncing any two digits after the decimal as if they were counting numbers: 99.99 = ninety-nine point ninety-nine.

However, when it is a percentage, I'm afraid the listener might lose track. It's too many words. So I agree that over ...point twelve percent, or maybe ...point nineteen percent, I'd probably switch to saying the digit names for percentages.

With three digits or more after the decimal, I would always say the names of the digits after the decimal: 99.101 = ninety-nine point one oh one.

I'm only talking about the way I'd say these, not quoting a rule.

#### . 1

##### Banned
My maths teacher went to great trouble to make sure that we understood that the digits to the right of the decimal point are ALWAYS pronounced individually so as to ensure clarity.
What happens if the number is 56.121%?
Would this be written as fifty six point one hundred and twenty one percent?
How would you write out 56.01%?

.,,

#### Snowman75

##### Senior Member
My maths teacher went to great trouble to make sure that we understood that the digits to the right of the decimal point are ALWAYS pronounced individually so as to ensure clarity.
What happens if the number is 56.121%?
Would this be written as fifty six point one hundred and twenty one percent?
How would you write out 56.01%?

.,,
I agree completely. It grates against my ears when I (on rare occasions) hear something like "fifty-six point twelve percent". Arghhh! It even hurts just to look at it. I am aware, though, that there are many native speakers who will use this pronunciation.

A strong argument for the "one two" pronunciation is that the pronunciation is consistent, regardless of how many decimal places you choose to recite.

So for the number 56.12934

If you choose to recite to just one decimal point, it's "fifty-six point one", to two decimal places, "fifty-six point one two", and then "fifty-six point one two nine". Or you can simply start reciting at the beginning and stop whenever you want.

Otherwise you have all these wildly different pronunciations which all represent the same actual number:

fifty-six point one
fifty-six point twelve
fifty-six point one hundred and twenty nine

#### panjandrum

##### Lapsed Moderator
I guess that all of us who studied math(s) or any seriously numerate discipline would expect fifty six point one two ... and so on.

The alien example, fifty six point twelve, comes naturally to those whose maths extends no further than occasionally checking their change.

#### riglos

##### Senior Member
Thank you all!

Finally, I opted for the "fifty-six point one two" choice, which is (I think, after your answers and some research I did) the correct one. The fact is that this number was to be included in a business English course final exam for the students to write it out. I think this further justifies the "point one two" choice.

Thanks again! You were all of great help!

Mara.-

#### johnnymax

##### New Member
Actually, not to be a fly in the ointment, but I believe the correct way to write out 56.12% is "fifty six and twelve one hundreths percent." Isn't it?

#### Rover_KE

##### Senior Member
Actually, not to be a fly in the ointment, but I believe the correct way to write out 56.12% is "fifty six and twelve one hundreths percent." Isn't it?
Good heavens! What on earth makes you think that?

(Welcome to the board.)

Rover

#### johnnymax

##### New Member
Thank you Rover. I recall my elementary school math teachers drumming into our heads the proper way to express decimals, which are actually fractions. ".12" isn't properly written or spoken as "point one two." "Point one two" is the same as the fraction "12/100," thus it is traditinoally expressed as "twelve one hundredths," and not with any reference to a point. I seem to recall a similar lesson in a college journalism class. I am not a professional writer or journalist, but I believe that decimals are to be articulated as the fractions they represent.

#### Myridon

##### Senior Member
I was taught the same as johnnymax. All this "point one two" business is "convenient math class slang" not "proper English".

#### Forero

##### Senior Member
Actually, not to be a fly in the ointment, but I believe the correct way to write out 56.12% is "fifty six and twelve one hundreths percent." Isn't it?
I would definitely hesitate to use that method on something like this:

Is pi closer to 3.14159 or 3.1416?

Would you really say "three and fourteen thousand one hundred fifty-nine one hundred thousandths" and "three and one thousand four hundred sixteen ten thousandths"?

In nondecimal systems, like the base sixteen system we use on mainframe computers, I always read each digit separately:

B6.42 = "Bee six point four two". (That's 182.2578125 in decimal, by the way.)

#### johnnymax

##### New Member
That is illustrative, but I think that is conversational, not formal writing. Correct?

#### Myridon

##### Senior Member
When you write a check, do you write out 56.12 as:
Fifty-six and 12/100 (the way I was taught)
or
Fifty-six point one-two
or
something else?

#### Forero

##### Senior Member
I still put "Fifty-six dollars and twelve cents", and cross out the extra "dollars", but I think banks now read only the \$56.12 and ignore the "Fifty-six and ..." part, or, worse yet, allow an electronic transfer without my authorization. I do wonder whether the law has changed.

#### Andygc

##### Senior Member
Johnnymax, Myridon

I don't know which variety of English johnnymax uses, but I know Myridon speaks American. I was, of course, taught in BE, and we never spoke decimals as fractions. Of course we were taught that .01 is one hundredth, but if a number was expressed as a decimal fraction it was always spoken as, for example, (0.215) nought point two one five. It would only be spoken as 215 thousandths if it was written as a vulgar fraction.

Is this, perhaps, a national or even regional difference?

#### Loob

##### Senior Member
I don't know - but for me:

The number 56.12 is read fifty-six point one-two.

The amount £56.12 is read fifty-six pounds and twelve pence. On a cheque, I write "fifty-six pounds and 12p".

#### JulianStuart

##### Senior Member
I can tell you from my (learning maths in the UK and then moving to the US) experience that the "fractions" concept is only to be found in the US, although the "three point one four one five nine" format is also found here.

#### panjandrum

##### Lapsed Moderator
fifty-six point one two...
fifty-six and twelve hundredths...

Both are correct in the relevant parts of the world.

I refer you to the accumulated WordReference wisdom on this topic in:
>> Topic summary: Numbers - speaking, saying, writing in full [number say speak read write]

From the second post of that thread:
In AE, numbers with up to three digits to the right of the point may sometimes be read as decimal fractions.
This doesn't happen in BE.

And in case you miss the link in the topic summary, there is a lot more on this topic from post #9 onwards in:
Reading, speaking, writing, saying, numbers - \$1234.01, 200.134

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#### natkretep

##### Moderato con anima (English Only)
I don't know - but for me:

The number 56.12 is read fifty-six point one-two.

The amount £56.12 is read fifty-six pounds and twelve pence. On a cheque, I write "fifty-six pounds and 12p".
Yes, I do that too, although I might sometimes spell out 'twelve pence' in a cheque. I think anyone taught maths in BE style (as I have)would have been told that numbers after decimal points have to be read out one by one.

The reason I don't do it for money is that I don't consider the dot a real decimal point, in that it's not possible (normally) to add more than 2 digits,* and in the days of the ha'penny, you could even add a fraction, as in £56.12½; and in cheques, the dot could be replaced with a long dash £56—12 to prevent alteration by others. It's also possible to write the pence amount as a superscript, as in £5612. (I can't do it properly here. The '12' should be raised somewhat.) I've also seen £56:12, £56-12.

I think the American convention is different, where I would often see the cents expressed as a fraction in a cheque (check): \$56 12/100.

*EDIT: OK, exchange rates are given to 4 decimal points - but that is not what we're talking about.

Nat

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#### JuanEscritor

##### Senior Member
I am not a professional writer or journalist, but I believe that decimals are to be articulated as the fractions they represent.
Fully agreed. Fifty-six and twelve (one) hundredths of a percent seems like the way I would choose to do this were I forced to write out 56.12%.

As has been pointed out, though, this appears to be a dialect-specific construction.

JE

#### Joseph A

##### Senior Member
Fifty-six point one two percent is correct, but I would be equally comfortable saying fifty-six point twelve percent.

Without the word percent, I would be comfortable pronouncing any two digits after the decimal as if they were counting numbers: 99.99 = ninety-nine point ninety-nine.

However, when it is a percentage, I'm afraid the listener might lose track. It's too many words. So I agree that over ...point twelve percent, or maybe ...point nineteen percent, I'd probably switch to saying the digit names for percentages.

With three digits or more after the decimal, I would always say the names of the digits after the decimal: 99.101 = ninety-nine point one oh one.

I'm only talking about the way I'd say these, not quoting a rule.
Hello Kelly,
Sorry, I didn't want to start a new thread to a question similar to this. Therefore, I would like to ask you if the pronunciation of the percentage "33.33 percent" is correct as follow?
1. Thirty-three point thirty three percent.
2. Thirty-three point thirty-three percent.
3. Thirty-three point three-three percent.
4. Thirty three point three three percent.
I hope you answer me. Or any of the British and American native speakers help me if these "4" ways above to pronounce that percentage are correct.
Regards,
JA

#### entangledbank

##### Senior Member
1 and 2 are the same pronunciation; they only differ in writing. Likewise 3 and 4 are the same. I, like apparently all BrE speakers, would only use 3=4, with each number after the decimal point pronounced separately: three three.

#### heypresto

##### Senior Member
1. Thirty-three point thirty three percent.
2. Thirty-three point thirty-three percent.
3. Thirty-three point three-three percent. This is pronounced the same as #4, but we wouldn't spell 'three three' with a hyphen.
4. Thirty three point three three percent. This is how we'd say it and write it.

Cross-posted.

#### Joseph A

##### Senior Member
1 and 2 are the same pronunciation; they only differ in writing. Likewise 3 and 4 are the same. I, like apparently all BrE speakers, would only use 3=4, with each number after the decimal point pronounced separately: three three.
Thank you so much.

#### Uncle Jack

##### Senior Member
For what it's worth, I would happily say 'thirty-three and a third percent' if .33 was used as an approximation for 1/3 (in other words, if 33.33% was really 100 ÷ 3 1 ÷ 3 ).

Like (almost) all BrE speakers, I would never say 'thirty-three point thirty-three percent', and would have no qualms correcting anyone who said it like that. To me it is wrong, without question.

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#### Joseph A

##### Senior Member
1. Thirty-three point thirty three percent.
2. Thirty-three point thirty-three percent.
3. Thirty-three point three-three percent. This is pronounced the same as #4, but we wouldn't spell 'three three' with a hyphen.
4. Thirty three point three three percent. This is how we'd say it and write it.

Cross-posted.
1. Thirty-three point thirty three percent.
2. Thirty-three point thirty-three percent.
3. Thirty-three point three-three percent. This is pronounced the same as #4, but we wouldn't spell 'three three' with a hyphen.
4. Thirty three point three three percent. This is how we'd say it and write it.

Cross-posted.
Thank a lot.

#### Joseph A

##### Senior Member
For what it's worth, I would happily say 'thirty-three and a third percent' if .33 was used as an approximation for 1/3 (in other words, if 33.33% was really 100 ÷ 3).

Like (almost) all BrE speakers, I would never say 'thirty-three point thirty-three percent', and would have no qualms correcting anyone who said it like that. To me it is wrong, without question.
Thank a lot.

#### heypresto

##### Senior Member
For what it's worth, I would happily say 'thirty-three and a third percent' if .33 was used as an approximation for 1/3 (in other words, if 33.33% was really 100 ÷ 3).
Me too. It's the most natural way to say it. I don't know why I didn't think of this when I posted.

#### Joseph A

##### Senior Member
1. Thirty-three point thirty three percent.
2. Thirty-three point thirty-three percent.
3. Thirty-three point three-three percent. This is pronounced the same as #4, but we wouldn't spell 'three three' with a hyphen.
4. Thirty three point three three percent. This is how we'd say it and write it.

Cross-posted.
Sorry heypresto,
But if you check the loob's answer in #18, you will see that she has used a hyphen between the digits after the decimal point. She wrote as "fifty-six point one-two", but you said without without a hyphen. Could you tell me why?
Regards,
JA

#### heypresto

##### Senior Member
Because that's how I'd write it, if I really had to. Maybe it's just me, but it seems odd to me to spell it with a hyphen.

It probably isn't that important since it's very unlikely you'll ever need to write out a percentage like this in words.

#### Joseph A

##### Senior Member
Because that's how I'd write it, if I really had to. Maybe it's just me, but it seems odd to me to spell it with a hyphen.

It probably isn't that important since it's very unlikely you'll ever need to write out a percentage like this in words.
Thanks a lot.
You shouldn't have considered my last choice #3 incorrect with a hyphen because I taught my students to write out the digits either with or without a hyphen. I was really afraid because I don't want to misteach my students. A day I saw the loob's option to write out a percentage. On the following day I went to school and told my students that a "hyphen" is also possible. I don't know what I should do.
Regards,
JA

#### heypresto

##### Senior Member
You asked about the pronunciation of the percentage. I pointed out that #3 and #4 were pronounced the same.

I still think it's odd to spell it the 'point three three' bit with a hyphen. And I still think it is very unlikely that anyone would ever spell the whole percentage out like this in words.

But I suppose I should have said, 'in my opinion' just to make it clear.

##### Senior Member
I was always taught that fractions and decimals were two different ways of saying the same thing. In other words fifty-six and twelve hundredths OR fifty-six point one two.

Likewise you write them 56 12/100 OR 56.12.

You can use one or the other, but not mix them. Bad boy, black mark!

#### RM1(SS)

##### Senior Member
Joseph's #4 is the only way I would write/say it. Written out on a cheque (and only on a cheque) it would be "Thirty-three and 33/100."

#### Joseph A

##### Senior Member
You asked about the pronunciation of the percentage. I pointed out that #3 and #4 were pronounced the same.

I still think it's odd to spell it the 'point three three' bit with a hyphen. And I still think it is very unlikely that anyone would ever spell the whole percentage out like this in words.

But I suppose I should have said, 'in my opinion' just to make it clear.
Thank you so much.

#### Joseph A

##### Senior Member
I was always taught that fractions and decimals were two different ways of saying the same thing. In other words fifty-six and twelve hundredths OR fifty-six point one two.

Likewise you write them 56 12/100 OR 56.12.

You can use one or the other, but not mix them. Bad boy, black mark!
Thank a lot.

#### Joseph A

##### Senior Member
Joseph's #4 is the only way I would write/say it. Written out on a cheque (and only on a cheque) it would be "Thirty-three and 33/100."
Thank you so much.

#### Loob

##### Senior Member
But if you check the loob's answer in #18, you will see that she has used a hyphen between the digits after the decimal point. She wrote as "fifty-six point one-two"...
Re-reading that post today after a space of eight years, I thought "I wonder why I put that hyphen in".

#### heypresto

##### Senior Member
What a difference eight years can make.

#### Joseph A

##### Senior Member
Re-reading that post today after a space of eight years, I thought "I wonder why I put that hyphen in".
Loob, for God's sake don't say I was wrong eight years ago, please. If it is wrong, I am wrong too.
Regards,
JA

#### Loob

##### Senior Member
The thread is about how to represent, in written words, the way we pronounce figures like 56.12%. Putting myself back eight years, I probably wrote "one-two" for the numbers after the decimal point because that felt like a closer approximation of the way I'd pronounce them than "one two".

In practice, the number of occasions on which anyone would actually need to write out in words the numbers after the decimal point is surely vanishingly small. I can't imagine having to do so anywhere other than WordReference.

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#### Joseph A

##### Senior Member
The thread is about how to represent, in written words, the way we pronounce figures like 56.12%. Putting myself back eight years, I probably wrote "one-two" for the numbers after the decimal point because that felt like a closer approximation of the way I'd pronounce them than "one two".

In practice, the number of occasions on which anyone would actually need to write out in words the numbers after the decimal point is surely vanishingly small. I can't imagine having to do so anywhere other than WordReference.
Yhanks a lot.
I don't know how to tell my students that I was wrong. I usually try to get things and information from different sources and from American and British native speakers. I think you were too young and not very knowledgealbe eight years ago,that is why you made that mistake, but now you're one of the active members in this Forum to help the foreign learners. Thanks for your explanation.
Regards,
JA

#### Joseph A

##### Senior Member
What a difference eight years can make.
heypresto, I troubled you. Thanks a lot.

#### heypresto

##### Senior Member
Honestly, I really don't think it matters that you told your students that you could or should include a hyphen. As we've said, they won't ever need to write out a percentage like this in words.

#### Packard

##### Senior Member
I was always taught that fractions and decimals were two different ways of saying the same thing. In other words fifty-six and twelve hundredths OR fifty-six point one two.

Likewise you write them 56 12/100 OR 56.12.

You can use one or the other, but not mix them. Bad boy, black mark!
If I were speaking it, I would say, "Fifty-six and twelve hundredths".

In our machine shop we routinely refer to "tenths of a thousandth" but usually it is phrase as just "tenths".

It measured "one eighty-seven and five tenths". (0.1875 --and the "thousandths" and the "inches" are understood).

#### Uncle Jack

##### Senior Member
It measured "one eighty-seven and five tenths". (0.1875 --and the "thousandths" and the "inches" are understood).
I, too, would treat thousandths of an inch as a unit, not that I have to work in thous these days. We're a bit luckier over here; millimetres and microns seem so much more the right size units to deal in, but I suppose everyone gets used to what they use.

#### Joseph A

##### Senior Member
Honestly, I really don't think it matters that you told your students that you could or should include a hyphen. As we've said, they won't ever need to write out a percentage like this in words.
JA

#### Joseph A

##### Senior Member
I was always taught that fractions and decimals were two different ways of saying the same thing. In other words fifty-six and twelve hundredths OR fifty-six point one two.

Likewise you write them 56 12/100 OR 56.12.

You can use one or the other, but not mix them. Bad boy, black mark!