>> Topic summary: Numbers - reading, speaking, saying, writing in full [number say speak read write]

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Senior Member
English-Ireland (top end)

This thread is about how we say numbers in English and how we write them in words rather than digits. This post explains how to say whole numbers. The next post goes on to talk about decimal numbers. Further posts about numbers expressed as fractions and percentages may be added later.​
It is work in progress and is based almost entirely on discussions in these forums.​
There are significant differences between American English and British English. These are indicated clearly below. There are also significant regional and other variations.​
Saying numbers is not as difficult as it may seem at first. Get the numbers from 1 to 999 right and the rest is easy. We read numbers in groups of up to three digits counting in threes from the decimal point leftwards - the groups we mark out with commas. We actually read the numbers from left to right, of course.

How to read a three-digit number.
It probably isn’t necessary to explain these.​
One, two, three... nineteen, twenty, twenty-one... ninety-nine.

The numbers 100-199 begin with one hundred... or a hundred...
With large numbers it is usually one hundred ... but in other contexts a hundred ... is more natural. See a/one hundred
Numbers 200-999 begin with two/three/etc hundred...
What about those three dots after hundred? How do we say the 00-99?​
Easy, just the same as in the 001-099 section.

How do we put them together – the hundreds and the 00-99 part?​
AE/BE difference.

AE: Many put them together without any joining words. Others use a joining and as in BE.​
103 ... one hundred three OR one hundred and three
119 ... one hundred nineteen [numbers ending with thirteen through nineteen usually do not have a joining and]​
546 ... five hundred forty-six [a joining and is used by a minority of AE speakers for spoken numbers, and more frequently in writing]

BE: We put them together with a joining and.​
103 ... one hundred and three
119 ... one hundred and nineteen
546 ... five hundred and forty-six

Words used after each group of three digits.
When saying large numbers we say them in groups of three, as above, following each with thousand, million, as appropriate.​

Starting from the decimal point and moving left, the words used for the groups are:​
ZZZ,WWW,QQQ,YYY,XXX – these are units, no additional word is used.​
ZZZ,WWW,QQQ,YYY,XXX – thousand
ZZZ,WWW,QQQ,YYY,XXX – trillion
And so on.

The word is always singular, not plural - twenty-three thousand, NOT twenty-three thousands.

See What comes after trillion? for the names of the –illion groups.

BE speakers (and perhaps others) who persist in the illusion that AE and BE have different billions should read Meaning of "Billion".
It’s long, but there is a summary in the first post.

Putting it together.
To read a large number we start at the left and read the three-digit groups. The group at the left, of course, may have only one or two digits.​
What do we say to join the groups?​
Normally, we don’t use any joining word.​
The exception is the last group.​
If the last group after the thousands is 1-99 it is joined with and.​
For example, 4,001 to 4,099: (four) thousand and one to (four) thousand and ninety-nine.​
But 4,201: four thousand two hundred and one – no and after thousand.

Optional AE style is given in [brackets in italic]

AE: one million, two hundred [and] thirty-four thousand, five hundred [and] sixty-seven​
BE: one million, two hundred and thirty-four thousand, five hundred and sixty-seven

AE: one million, twenty-three thousand, four hundred [and] fifty-six​
BE: one million, twenty-three thousand, four hundred and fifty-six

AE: one million, twenty-three thousand​
BE: one million, twenty-three thousand

AE: one million, two hundred thirty-four thousand [and] fifty-six​
BE: one million, two hundred and thirty-four thousand and fifty-six​
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  • panjandrum

    Senior Member
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Decimal numbers – to the right of the decimal point
    There are different ways of saying the numbers to the right of the point. The most widespread, and conventional, is simply to say point followed by the digits one by one.​
    4.123456 – four point one two three four five six

    If there is a 0 in the number, it may be said as zero or oh.​
    Zero is more likely in formal or scientific contexts.​
    6.1203405 – six point one two zero three four zero five OR six point one two oh three four oh five

    If the number to the left of the point is zero, it too may be said as zero or oh, though oh is a lot less likely in this position.​
    0.123 – zero point one two three OR perhaps oh point one two three

    In AE, numbers with up to three digits to the right of the point may sometimes be read as decimal fractions.​
    The general idea is to look at the last decimal place (on the right), and read the numbers to the right of the decimal place in terms of that:

    4.1 – four and one tenth

    3.56 – three and fifty six hundredths

    5.314 – five and three hundred fourteen thousandths

    This is discussed from post #9 onwards in:​
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