twenty-one / twenty one [hyphen in cardinal and ordinal numbers]

AlmostEnglish

Senior Member
Polish
Hi guys,

This seems a really trivial question, but I've had this nagging thought in the back of my head. Many years ago, when I was first taught what is known to academics as cardinal numerals (or just 'numbers') in English, I'm sure the almighty teacher said clearly you write "twenty-one" or "ninety-nine", not "twenty one" or "ninety nine". I am also sure that was in primary school and I'd since completed a few more "advanced" stages of education, but I have never been corrected for not using the hyphen- which I do not use, even in academic writing.

What is the correct way? Does it apply to what they call ordinal numbers?
It really seems daft to be asking, but then, it's bugging me!

Many thanks :)
 
  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    I have never been corrected for not using the hyphen- which I do not use, even in academic writing.
    May I offer my thanks to the thousands who did not bother with a hyphen one way or the other. :) Unless it would cause ambiguity, most people would let the hypehless "twenty seven" slide. (When writing cheques, I always use continuous cursive, no breaks, no hyphens.)

    The OED uses the hyphenated form throughout and I do too. If it helps, the general guidance is that numbers after ten can be written correctly as numbers. When these occur at the beginning of a sentence, reconstruct the sentence. :thumbsup:
     

    AlmostEnglish

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I suppose I'm more amazed at how nobody ever picks it up as incorrect and how it's taken me years to remember there was actually a rule for this than anything. I like your attitude PaulQ- if they're at the beginning of the sentence, just shift them out of the way :D
     
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