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 Forming and expressing numbers in English


Index : Numbers - cardinals Numbers - ordinals Fractions and decimals
See also:  Expressing the date in English .....

1. Cardinal numbers

Cardinal numbers are the numbers that we use for counting or designating quantity : English-speakers use them every day - one two three four etc. 

From 0 to 100 - From zero to a hundred

The number 0 is variously expressed as nought (in British English) or zero (in all forms of English) : in the middle of a series of digits, it may also be pronounced "oh".

Here are the important cardinal numbers between one and a hundred, which can serve as models for other numbers.

1 one 11 eleven 21 twenty-one
2 two 12 twelve 22 twenty-two
3 three 13 thirteen 30 thirty
4 four 14 fourteen 40 forty
5 five 15 fifteen 50 fifty
6 six 16 sixteen 60 sixty
7 seven 17 seventeen 70 seventy
8 eight 18 eighteen 80 eighty
9 nine 19 nineteen 90 ninety
10 ten 20 twenty 100 a hundred

Watch out for spelling:  fourteen but  forty.

The connector both can also be used to refer to two entities.

Numbers from 101 to 999 - three-digit numbers

Important: the examples and rules below illustrate British usage.
In the USA, the word and is normally omitted.
A hyphen (-) is normally used in numbers between 21 and 99, whether these stand alone or are part of a larger number.

From these examples, all other three-digit numbers in English can be formed.
101 a hundred and one 365 three hundred and sixty-five
111 a hundred and eleven 480 four hundred and eighty
121 a hundred and twenty-one 545 five hundred and forty-five
133 a hundred and thirty-three 644 six hundred and forty-four
257 two hundred and fifty-seven 799 seven hundred and ninety-nine

Notes :

The word "hundred" , except as a round number (a number ending in 00), is always followed by "and", both in spoken English and in written English when numbers are written out as words.

The word hundred never takes an "s" as part of a cardinal number.
For numbers between 100 and 199, one normally says "a hundred" and not "one hundred".
The expression "one hundred" is used only to put emphasis on the figure one (i.e. one, not two nor three), or to stress the word.
Example:
I counted one hundred and twenty planes     (and not 220 nor 320)

Hundreds in the plural

The words hundred, thousand and million never take an s in the plural as cardinal numbers (which are a form of adjective).
They only take an s when used as nouns designating an imprecise quantity of hundreds or thousands, etc., followed by of ...
Examples
There are hundreds of ducks on the lake.
Thousands of people crammed into the stadium
These sentences do not say how many hundreds nor how many thousands: the "s" is the only mark of plurality.

Numbers from 1000 to 1,000,000

  • Apart from round numbers (numbers ending in 00) numbers above 1000 are normally written in figures, not in words. They are written in words here as a means to show how they are used in spoken English.
1000 a thousand 4656 four thousand six hundred and fifty-six
1001 a thousand and one 10,000 ten thousand
1086 one thousand and eighty-six 10,148 ten thousand one hundred and forty-eight
1147 one thousand one hundred and forty-seven 65,423 sixty-five thousand four hundred and twenty-three
1201 one thousand two hundred and one 100,000 A hundred thousand
3600 three thousand six hundred 699,482 Six hundred and ninety-nine thousand four hundred and eighty-two

Notes

Reminder : these examples and rules reflect usage in British English.
In the USA, the word and is usually omitted.
  • After 1000, if the word "hundred" does not occur in the number, it is the word thousand which is followed by and
  • Apart from round numbers (1000, 7000 etc) there will always be an and somewhere in the number.
Examples; 1018 = One thousand and eighteen
(or in US English : One thousand eighteen)
43,003 = forty-three  thousand and three
56,100 = fifty-six thousand one hundred
Otherwise the word thousand is not followed by and, but the word hundred is.
Examples; 1708 = One thousand seven hundred and eight
25,864 = Twenty-five thousand eight hundred and sixty-four
  • In numbers from 1100 to 1199,  the single hundred will be pronounced one and not a.
  • Four-digit numbers below 2000 (and rarely above) may sometimes also be expressed starting with "eleven hundred", "twelve hundred", etc.
Examples;
1100 = One thousand one hundred  or Eleven hundred
22,100 = Twenty-two thousand one hundred.
654,122 = Six hundred and fifty-four thousand, one hundred and twenty-two
  • The word hundred is always followed by "and" once it is followed by another digit, and even if it occurs more than once in the number.
  • As cardinal numbers, neither hundred nor thousand ever take a plural "s". (More)
  • Whether writing in figures or in words, whith numbers of more than than four digits it is normal to put a comma every three digits.The comma is optional with four-digit numbers.
Examples;
44,399 Forty-four thousand, three hundred and ninety-nine
637,316 = Six hundred and thirty-seven thousand, three hundred and sixteen.

Numbers greater than a million

The same principles apply.
The number simply starts with a quantity of millions, for example
One million...
or Twenty-five million...
or Eight hundred and twenty million...
Two billion
Examples;
1,002,018 = One million two thousand and eighteen
1,001,116 = One million one thousand one hundred and sixteen.
736,654,121 = Seven hundred and thirty-six million, six hundred and fifty-four thousand, one hundred and twenty-one
The word hundred is always followed by "and" unless it is round (with "00"), no matter how often it occurs in the number.

Other points to remember:

Figures can be expressed differently when they refer to dates and telephone numbers, or when they are after a decimal point.

Index : Numbers - cardinals Numbers - ordinals Fractions and decimals

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Compter et les nombres en anglais










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