1. Esther Brooke Member

    United States
    Hi there,
    I'm always stumped by this. Is "deux milliard de dollars," two million dollars? Or is "milliard," a billion? I'm leaning toward a billion and that's what my dictionary says, but I just want to make sure. Thanks.
  2. MonsieurAquilone Senior Member

    NZ - English
    Yes, it is a billion.
  3. Esther Brooke Member

    United States
    Thanks. That's very helpful.
  4. Cath.S.

    Cath.S. Senior Member

    Bretagne, France
    français de France
    Quite, and a million dollars would be un million de dollars. :)
  5. RuK Senior Member

    Outside Paris
    English/lives France
    The question I always ask myself is whether the billion is a million million -- ie 1,000000,000,000 (by analogy: a thousand is a hundred hundreds, a million is a thousand thousands) or whether it is just three zeros on from a million.
  6. OlivierG

    OlivierG Senior Member

    Toulouse, France
    France / Français
    It seems to depend on whether you are in the US or in England:
    In the United States and France, a billion is a thousand millions which means that it is a number followed by nine zeros. However, in Great Britain and Germany, a billion is a million millions, which would be a number followed by twelve zeros. So be careful when you say a billion!

    Source : http://www.thursdaysclassroom.com/03aug00/really_big_numbers.html
  7. brookter Senior Member

    United Kingdom
    Unfortunately (because the British system is more logical - c,a va de soi....;)), that hasn't really been true for many years, in the UK at least.

    American usage has long crept in and become the default and even HM Gov't uses 10^9 as a billion. Although some of us are old enough to remember when the world was young and you could really buy something with a billion pounds....



  8. Tresley

    Tresley Senior Member

    Yorkshire / United Kingdom
    British English
    'Milliard' always causes problems. If you translate it as 'one thousand million' every English speaker will know what you mean.

    If you translate it as a 'billion', then people start asking themselves 'which billion'? - US billion or a normal billion?
  9. eclypse Senior Member

    So to sum it up, is it:
    UK Thousand million
    US Billion
    FR Milliard
    UK Billion
    US Million millions
    FR ?

    Please correct me if I got this wrong, otherwise, what is the FR translation of the UK billion ??

    This is quite confusing !!!
  10. zaby

    zaby Senior Member

  11. FAC13

    FAC13 Senior Member

    English, UK
    A lot has changed since August then :)
  12. broglet

    broglet Senior Member

    English - England
    The English/US number names are all shown in:


    where you can also discover what a googol is ...
  13. ariotos Member

    Spain/Spanish France/French
    But how do you translate into British English "Des milliards de libres"? You can't use billion because in England that means 1+12 zeros. Can you say "Thousands of millions of pounds"?

  14. Laürenar

    Laürenar Senior Member

    France, français
    There are ways to express big numbers in French : here's an extract from the wikipedia about big numbers. Even if the biggest numbers are barely never named this way.

    Formation des noms en -llion

    Le système de Nicolas Chuquet consiste à faire suivre les préfixes bi-, tri-,... du suffixe -llion, pour former les noms d'unité successifs. Dans le système original, qui correspond à l'échelle longue, chaque unité vaut 10^6 fois l'unité précédente. On a donc, de manière régulière:

    1 mi-llion 10^6 = 1 000 000^1
    2 bi-llion 10^12 = 1 000 000^2
    3 tri-llion 10^18 = 1 000 000^3
    4 quadri-llion 10^24 = 1 000 000^4
    5 quinti-llion 10^30 = 1 000 000^5
    6 sexti-llion 10^36 = 1 000 000^6
    7 septi-llion 10^42 = 1 000 000^7
    8 octi-llion 10^48 = 1 000 000^8
    9 noni-llion 10^54 = 1 000 000^9
    10 deci-llion 10^60 = 1 000 000^10

    I know there also is a system based on the 'lliard' suffix like Milliard (Trilliard...)
  15. Staarkali

    Staarkali Senior Member

    Are you sure you are French? How could you possibly believe that a billion is what you quoted? A one followed by nine zeros is a milliard in French.

    That is true. I will add that there is indeed the same system for "lliard", it's pretty simple: "lliard" = 10^3 "llion"

    that gives us the complete table (in French):

    million 10^6
    milliard 10^9
    billion 10^12
    billiard 10^15
    trillion 10^18
    trilliard 10^21

    For fun and more information, see http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nom_des_grands_nombres :)
  16. clairet

    clairet Senior Member

    London & Bordeaux
    England & English (UK version)
    As Brookter said originally, it has long ceased to be the normal understanding in the UK that a billion is a million million. Any time newspapers or other media talk about a billion they mean a thousand million.
  17. broglet

    broglet Senior Member

    English - England
    as clairet says, billions of pounds in modern BE would normally be understood as 'thousands of millions of pounds' but if it were important to avoid ambiguity you could certainly use the latter, which is perfect English
  18. orlando09 Senior Member

    France, PACA
    English (England)
    At the risk of being repetitive, this is definitely the case. I suspect it originates with the media (or perhaps the government) wanting to be able to make things exciting by being able to talk about "billions" being spent on something (as there is rarely cause for old-fashioned British billions - a US trillion - to be referred to). Or it could just be the US influence. Or just that "billion"is quicker to say/write than a thousand million (and no one has ever heard of a milliard outside of dictionaries). Pretty much nobody now uses the million million version of a billion.
  19. Staarkali

    Staarkali Senior Member

    I would definitively go for the US influence, for me it appears as the most obvious.
  20. Mayette Member

    Hi, How do you translate and write "milliard" in UK? we use to write it as below: M with 2 line up. The context: I want to explain that the AUCHAN group turn over is 40 "milliards"

    Thank you!
  21. mec_américain Senior Member

    US, English
    Fun, too, how we swap commas and decimals.

    1,000,000,000 in the US in France

    $1.50 here would be E1,50 (sorry I don't know where the euro symbol is and right, I know the Euro is worth more than the dollar).
  22. broglet

    broglet Senior Member

    English - England
    modern UK usage is to use 'billion' to mean the American billion. The big British billion (= US trillion) is sadly on the verge of extinction
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2009
  23. Mayette Member

    Ok thank you, but how do the UK WRITE "billion" shortened?
    You know, we write is as below in France: for example 40 million is 40 M, or 40 M with a line at the top and 40 milliards is: 40 M with a double line at the top...I'd like to write it, but not all the "billion" word...shortened...
  24. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)

    Really? And where on earth do you find that on your keyboard?

    I'd put Bn. "£72 Bn."
  25. Mayette Member


    On my teacher's blackbords!;)

    That's the shortered I've seen during my studies...certainly not a useful code; when I say "we" use to write it like below...it means just...on the University blackbord...!
  26. Krom le Barbare Member

    Désolé, je viens de passer le bac S, spécialité Maths, et cette phrase m'a choqué.
    A thousand is ten hundreds!

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