Linguapress English Grammar
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Linguapress English Grammar

Numbers & counting in English

Forming and expressing numbers in written and spoken language

express 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.   In terms of grammar, they belong to the category of determining adjectives.

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".  Everyone has heard of James Bond, also known as 007. That is pronounced "oh-oh-seven" or "double-oh-seven", but never "nought-nought-seven" nor "zero-zero-seven".

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

Key numbers from 0 to 100 as numerals and as written words
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.

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.
Key three-figure numbers from 100 to 999 as numerals and as written words
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
uk shopping
Notes :

The word "hundred" , except as a round number (a number ending in 00), is always followed by "and", both in spoken British English and in written English when long 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.
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 ...
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 needed as it is the only mark of plurality.

Numbers from 1000 to 1,000,000

Large numbers between a thousand to a million as numerals and as written words
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


Reminder : these examples and rules reflect usage in British English.
In the USA, the word and is usually omitted.
So in American English 250,000 is expressed as Two hundred fifty thousand.
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
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
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
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.

Going further: Numbers used as pronouns:  See Indefinite & gender-neutral pronouns

Index : Numbers - cardinals Numbers - ordinals Fractions and decimals
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Cette page en français: ►
Compter et les nombres en anglais
 numbers in English

Here is just a very small sample of articles in graded English to read on
Advanced level English (B2 - C1)
Nevada and its Extraterrestrials
Who killed Martin Luther King ? with audio
Wall Street culture
The story of the Blues with audio
Highway 66 revisited with audio
America's Amish - model society ?
Henry Ford, the man who changed America with audio
America's drive-in movie theaters
Just who are the English ?
JRR Tolkien - The man behind the Hobbit
Tea and the British with audio
Short story : A few good reasons with audio
Intermediate level English (B1 - B2)
Alcohol, prohibition and Al Capone
George Washington, America's first president with audio
No more Fish 'n' chips ? Britain's fast food. with audio
Big red London buses  with audio
Robin Hood - fact or fiction?
Moving to the country  with audio
Short story: Driiftwood   with audio
New life for Big Ben

► Click for  Full grammar index
Selected main grammar pages
Verbs: the present tense
Verbs : the future
Past tenses
Phrasal & prepositional verbs
Gerunds, participles and -ing forms
The infinitive
Irregular verb tables
Nouns, pronouns, adjectives
Noun phrases
Adjective order in English
The possessive
Sentences & clauses
Relative clauses in English
Conditional clauses in English
Word order in English
Reported questions in English
Language and style 
Word stress in English
A short history of English
More resources
Reading resources: advanced 
Reading resources: intermediate
Crosswords and word games

Discover Britain - institutions, tourism, life


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