3 : fractions and decimals
quantities less than one,
should not cause many problems for students of English, once they have
understood how they are formed.
Except for the most common fractions,
¼ ½ and ¾,
fractions are made up of a cardinal
number (one, two, three etc.)
followed by an ordinal ,
usually in the plural (thirds,
fifths, sixths etc.)
Here are the most common fractions in English, and a few
others as random examples.
||a quarter (occasionally
||a hundredth or one hundredth
are used in
all styles of language, including scientific and technical English.
Don't forget that North Americans, notably people in the USA, have not
fully adopted the decimal system like most of the rest of the world,
and still use non-metric measurements such as feet and inches.... and
fractions of these..
Half a pint of beer
A quarter of a
Three quarters of
Three fifths of
the contents of the bottle.
A thickness of one
thirty-second of an inch.
A tolerance of six
thousandths of a millimetre
Using decimals in English
are regularly used in everyday English, but more specifically in
scientific and technical English, in order to indicate with precision
quantities that are not a complete number.
They are not difficult to use..
After the decimal point
figures are expressed digit by digit. The words hundred
are never used after the decimal point.
Note that the decimal point
is precisely that; a point,
never a comma.
Before a decimal point, for a
quantity less than
1, one normally begins (British English) nought point ...
or (all forms of English) zero
the decimal point, the 0
is expressed as "oh"
except on very rare occasions, figures with decimals ane never written
out in words, but always written in figures. On this page,
examples are expressed words as a representation of the way they are
expressed in spoken English.
||point two five or
nought point two five, or
zero point two five
||eight point five
||point five, or nought point five, or zero point
||twelve point one five
||point seven five, or nought point seven five or
zero point seven five
||seventeen point eight oh six
||point three three three, or nought point three
three three, or zero point three three three
||three hundred and eighty-four
point six three
||nought point six four oh five or
zero point six four zero five
||Forty point oh oh
four ou Forty point nought nought four, ou Forty point zero zero four
||one point five
||one hundred and seventeen point eight seven six
was 0.2445 mm thick
Oral; It was nought point two four
four five millimetres thick.
Written; The long side measures 6.652 in.
Oral; The long side measures six
point six five two inches.
Written; The solar vehicle reached a
speed of 131.68 m.p.h.
Oral; The solar vehicle reached a
speed of a hundred and thirty-one point six eight miles an
miles per hour).
above rules for decimals do not
apply to expressing sums of money.
this is treated separately (coming)
The rules are simple;
- quantities that are written in words in the original
language should be rendered as words in the target language
- quantities that are written in figures in the
original language should be rendered as figures in the target language
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countries of the world, along with the major Asian economies
use a decimal point
Most parts of Europe
use a decimal comma.
This means that people using decimals in an international or
multilingual context must be quite clear of the system they are using.
Otherwise figures like 123.456 or 123,456 will mean quite
different things to different people. Normally, context will be
sufficient to clarify what is being meant; but not always. In
computing, computers may well not be able to make a contextual
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