English number words include numerals and various words derived from them, as well as a large number of words borrowed from other languages.
Cardinal numbers refer to the size of a group. In English, these words are numerals.
|2||two||12||twelve (a dozen)||20||twenty|
|3||three||13||thirteen (a baker's dozen)||30||thirty|
If a number is in the range 21 to 99, and the second digit is not zero, the number is typically written as two words separated by a hyphen.
In English, the hundreds are perfectly regular, except that the word hundred remains in its singular form regardless of the number preceding it.
So too are the thousands, with the number of thousands followed by the word "thousand". For the number one thousand it may be written 1 000 or 1000 or 1,000, for larger numbers they are written for example 10 000 or 10,000 for ease of human reading[example needed]. The use of the , as a separator is avoided in some languages as it is used for a decimal placement, for example with money. As a result some style guides[example needed] recommend avoidance of the comma (,) as a separator and only to use the period (.) as a decimal placement. Thus a half would be written 0.5 in decimal, base ten notation, and fifty thousand as 50 000, and not 50.000 nor 50,000 nor 50000. As the English language has no language academy to make usage correct there is still a wide variety of usage, other languages do have language academies which ruled on these matters[example needed], yet their rulings are deprecated by international standards like the SI system or EU recommendations[example needed] which leads to varied usage.
|10,000||ten thousand or (rarely used) a myriad, which usually means an indefinitely large number.|
|100,000||one hundred thousand or one lakh (Indian English)|
|999,000||nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand (inclusively British English, Irish English, Australian English, and New Zealand English)|
nine hundred ninety-nine thousand (American English)
|10,000,000||ten million or one crore (Indian English)|
In American usage, four-digit numbers are often named using multiples of "hundred" and combined with tens and ones: "eleven hundred three", "twelve hundred twenty-five", "forty-seven hundred forty-two", or "ninety-nine hundred ninety-nine." In British usage, this style is common for multiples of 100 between 1,000 and 2,000 (e.g. 1,500 as "fifteen hundred") but not for higher numbers.
Americans may pronounce four-digit numbers with non-zero tens and ones as pairs of two-digit numbers without saying "hundred" and inserting "oh" for zero tens: "twenty-six fifty-nine" or "forty-one oh five". This usage probably evolved from the distinctive usage for years; "nineteen-eighty-one", or from four-digit numbers used in the American telephone numbering system which were originally two letters followed by a number followed by a four-digit number, later by a three-digit number followed by the four-digit number. It is avoided for numbers less than 2500 if the context may mean confusion with time of day: "ten ten" or "twelve oh four".
Intermediate numbers are read differently depending on their use. Their typical naming occurs when the numbers are used for counting. Another way is for when they are used as labels. The second column method is used much more often in American English than British English. The third column is used in British English but rarely in American English (although the use of the second and third columns is not necessarily directly interchangeable between the two regional variants). In other words, British English and American English can seemingly agree, but it depends on a specific situation (in this example, bus numbers).
|Common British vernacular||Common American vernacular||Common British vernacular|
|"How many marbles do you have?"||"What is your house number?"||"Which bus goes to the High Street?"|
|101||"A hundred and one."||"One-oh-one."
Here, "oh" is used for the digit zero.
|109||"A hundred and nine."||"One-oh-nine."||"One-oh-nine."|
|110||"A hundred and ten."||"One-ten."||"One-one-oh."|
|117||"A hundred and seventeen."||"One-seventeen."||"One-one-seven."|
|120||"A hundred and twenty."||"One-twenty."||"One-two-oh", "One-two-zero."|
|152||"A hundred and fifty-two."||"One-fifty-two."||"One-five-two."|
|208||"Two hundred and eight."||"Two-oh-eight."||"Two-oh-eight."|
|394||"Three hundred and ninety-four."||"Three-ninety-four."||"Three-ninety-four." or "Three-nine-four."|
Note: When a cheque (or check) is written, the number 100 is always written "one hundred". It is never "a hundred".
In American English, many students are taught[example needed], not to use the word and anywhere in the whole part of a number, so it is not used before the tens and ones. It is instead used as a verbal delimiter when dealing with compound numbers. Thus, instead of "three hundred and seventy-three," "three hundred seventy-three" would be said. Despite this rule, some Americans use the and in reading numbers containing tens and ones as an alternative variant.
For numbers above a million, three main systems name numbers in English (for the use of prefixes such as kilo- for a thousand, mega- for a million, milli- for a thousandth, etc. see SI units):
Many people have no direct experience of manipulating numbers this large, and many non-American readers may interpret billion as 1012 (even if they are young enough to have been taught otherwise at school); moreover, usage of the "long" billion is standard in some non-English speaking countries. For these reasons, defining the word may be advisable when writing for the public.
|Short scale||Long scale||Indian|
(or South Asian) English
|1,000,000||106||one million||one million||ten lakh|
a thousand million
a thousand million
|one hundred crore|
a thousand billion
a million million
|one lakh crore|
a thousand trillion
a thousand billion
|ten crore crore|
a thousand quadrillion
a million billion
|ten thousand crore crore|
a thousand quintillion
a thousand trillion
|one crore crore crore|
The numbers past one trillion in the short scale, in ascending powers of 1000, are as follows: quadrillion, quintillion, sextillion, septillion, octillion, nonillion, decillion, undecillion, duodecillion, tredecillion, quattuordecillion, quindecillion, sexdecillion, septendecillion, octodecillion, novemdecillion and vigintillion (which is 10 to the 63rd power, or a one followed by 63 zeros). The highest number in this series listed in modern dictionaries is centillion, which is 10 to the 303rd power. The interim powers of one thousand between vigintillion and centillion do not have standardized names, nor do any higher powers, but there are many ad hoc extensions in use. The highest number listed in Robert Munafo's table of such unofficial names is milli-millillion, which was coined as a name for 10 to the 3,000,003rd power.
The googolplex was often cited as the largest named number in English. If a googol is ten to the one hundredth power, then a googolplex is one followed by a googol of zeros (that is, ten to the power of a googol). There is the coinage, of very little use, of ten to the googolplex power, of the word googolplexplex.
The terms arab, kharab, padm and shankh are more commonly found in old books on Indian mathematics.
Here are some approximate composite large numbers in American English:
|1,200,000||1.2 million||one point two million|
|3,000,000||3 million||three million|
|250,000,000||250 million||two hundred fifty million|
|6,400,000,000||6.4 billion||six point four billion|
|23,380,000,000||23.38 billion||twenty-three point three eight billion|
Often, large numbers are written with (preferably non-breaking) half-spaces or thin spaces separating the thousands (and, sometimes, with normal spaces or apostrophes) instead of commas—to ensure that confusion is not caused in countries where a decimal comma is used. Thus, a million is often written 1 000 000.
In some areas, a point (. or ·) may also be used as a thousands separator, but then the decimal separator must be a comma (,). In English the point (.) is used as the decimal separator, and the comma (,) as the thousands separator.
Some numbers have special names in addition to their regular names, most depending on context.
Combinations of numbers in most sports scores are read as in the following examples:
Naming conventions of Tennis scores (and related sports) are different from other sports.
The centuries of Italian culture have names in English borrowed from Italian:
When reading numbers in a sequence, such as a telephone or serial number, British people will usually use the terms double followed by the repeated number. Hence 007 is double oh seven. Exceptions are the emergency telephone number 999, which is always nine nine nine and the apocalyptic "Number of the Beast", which is always six six six. In the US, 911 (the US emergency telephone number) is usually read nine one one, while 9/11 (in reference to the September 11, 2001, attacks) is usually read nine eleven.
A few numbers have specialised multiplicative numbers (adverbs), also called adverbial numbers, which express how many times some event happens:
Compare these specialist multiplicative numbers to express how many times some thing exists (adjectives):
|× 6||sextuple, hextuple||sixfold|
|× 7||septuple, heptuple||sevenfold|
Other examples are given in the Specialist Numbers.
The name of a negative number is the name of the corresponding positive number preceded by "minus" or (American English) "negative". Thus −5.2 is "minus five point two" or "negative five point two". For temperatures, North Americans colloquially say "below"—short for "below zero"—so a temperature of −5° is "five below" (in contrast, for example, to "two above" for 2°). This is occasionally used for emphasis when referring to several temperatures or ranges both positive and negative. This is particularly common in Canada where the use of Celsius in weather forecasting means that temperatures can regularly drift above and below zero at certain times of year.
Ordinal numbers refer to a position in a series. Common ordinals include:
|0th||zeroth or (rarely) noughth (see below)||10th||tenth|
Ordinal numbers such as 21st, 33rd, etc., are formed by combining a cardinal ten with an ordinal unit.
Higher ordinals are not often written in words, unless they are round numbers (thousandth, millionth, billionth). They are written with digits and letters as described below. Some rules should be borne in mind.
|If the units digit is:||0||1||2||3||4-9|
|This is written after the number||th||st||nd||rd||th|
These ordinal abbreviations are actually hybrid contractions of a numeral and a word. 1st is "1" + "st" from "first". Similarly, "nd" is used for "second" and "rd" for "third". In the legal field and in some older publications, the ordinal abbreviation for "second" and "third" is simply "d".
NB: "D" still often denotes "second" and "third" in the numeric designations of units in the US armed forces, for example, 533d Squadron, and in legal citations for the second and third series of case reporters.
There are a number of ways to read years. The following table offers a list of valid pronunciations and alternate pronunciations for any given year of the Gregorian calendar.
|Year||Most common pronunciation method||Alternative methods|
|1 BC||(The year) One BC||(The year) One BCE[note 1]|
|1||The year One||(The year) One CE[note 2]|
AD One[note 3]
|235||Two thirty-five||Two-three-five |
Two hundred (and) thirty-five
|911||Nine eleven||Nine-one-one |
Nine hundred (and) eleven
|999||Nine ninety-nine||Nine-nine-nine |
Nine hundred (and) ninety-nine
|1000||One thousand||Ten hundred |
|1004||One thousand (and) four||Ten oh-four|
|1010||Ten ten||One thousand (and) ten|
|1050||Ten fifty||One thousand (and) fifty|
|1225||Twelve twenty-five||One-two-two-five |
One thousand, two hundred (and) twenty-five
|1900||Nineteen hundred||One thousand, nine hundred |
|1901||Nineteen oh-one||Nineteen hundred (and) one |
One thousand, nine hundred (and) one
Nineteen aught one
|1919||Nineteen nineteen||Nineteen hundred (and) nineteen |
One thousand, nine hundred (and) nineteen
|1999||Nineteen ninety-nine||Nineteen hundred (and) ninety-nine |
One thousand, nine hundred (and) ninety-nine
|2000||Two thousand||Twenty hundred |
|2001||Two thousand (and) one||Twenty oh-one |
Twenty hundred (and) one
|2009||Two thousand (and) nine||Twenty oh-nine |
Twenty hundred (and) nine
|2010||Twenty ten||Twenty hundred (and) ten |
Two thousand (and) ten
Twelve thirty-four would be the norm on both sides of the Atlantic for the year 1234. The years 2000 to 2009 are most often read as two thousand, two thousand (and) one and the like by both British and American speakers. For years after 2009, twenty eleven, twenty fourteen, etc. are more common, even in years earlier than 2009 BC/BCE. Likewise, the years after 1009 (until 1099) are also read in the same manner (e.g. 1015 is either ten fifteen or, rarely, one thousand fifteen). Some Britons read years within the 1000s to 9000s BC/BCE in the American manner, that is, 1234 BC is read as twelve (hundred and) thirty-four BC, while 2400 BC can be read as either two thousand four hundred or twenty four hundred BC.
Collective numbers are numbers that refer to a group of a specific size. Words like "pair" and "dozen" are common in English, though most are formally derived from Greek and Latin numerals, as follows:
Numbers used to denote the denominator of a fraction are known linguistically as "partitive numerals." In spoken English, ordinal numerals and partitive numerals are identical with a few exceptions. Thus "fifth" can mean the element between fourth and sixth, or the fraction created by dividing the unit into five pieces. When used as a partitive numeral, these forms can be pluralized: one seventh, two sevenths. The sole exceptions to this rule are division by one, two, and sometimes four: "first" and "second" cannot be used for a fraction with a denominator of one or two. Instead, "whole" and "half" (plural "halves") are used. For a fraction with a denominator of four, either "fourth" or "quarter" may be used.
|or 0.2||two-tenths or one-fifth|
|one-quarter or one-fourth|
|or 0.4||four-tenths or two-fifths|
|or 0.6||six-tenths or three-fifths|
|three-quarters or three-fourths|
|or 0.8||eight-tenths or four-fifths|
Alternatively, and for greater numbers, one may say for 1/2 "one over two", for 5/8 "five over eight", and so on. This "over" form is also widely used in mathematics.
Fractions together with an integer are read as follows:
A space is required between the whole number and the fraction; however, if a special fraction character is used like "½", then the space can be done without, e.g.
Numbers with a decimal point may be read as a cardinal number, then "and", then another cardinal number followed by an indication of the significance of the second cardinal number (mainly U.S.); or as a cardinal number, followed by "point", and then by the digits of the fractional part. The indication of significance takes the form of the denominator of the fraction indicating division by the smallest power of ten larger than the second cardinal. This is modified when the first cardinal is zero, in which case neither the zero nor the "and" is pronounced, but the zero is optional in the "point" form of the fraction.
Some American and Canadian schools teach students to pronounce decimaly written fractions (for example, .5) as though they were longhand fractions (five tenths), such as thirteen and seven tenths for 13.7. This formality is often dropped in common speech and is steadily disappearing in instruction in mathematics and science as well as in international American schools. In the U.K., and among most North Americans, 13.7 would be read thirteen point seven.
In English the decimal point was originally printed in the center of the line (0·002), but with the advent of the typewriter it was placed at the bottom of the line, so that a single key could be used as a full stop/period and as a decimal point. In many non-English languages a full-stop/period at the bottom of the line is used as a thousands separator with a comma being used as the decimal point.
With few exceptions, most grammatical texts rule that the numbers zero to nine inclusive should be "written out" – instead of "1" and "2", one would write "one" and "two".
After "nine", one can head straight back into the 10, 11, 12, etc., although some write out the numbers until "twelve".
Another common usage is to write out any number that can be expressed as one or two words, and use figures otherwise.
Numbers at the beginning of a sentence should also be written out, or the sentence rephrased.
The above rules are not always followed. In literature, larger numbers might be spelled out. On the other hand, digits might be more commonly used in technical or financial articles, where many figures are discussed. In particular, the two different forms should not be used for figures that serve the same purpose; for example, it is inelegant to write, "Between day twelve and day 15 of the study, the population doubled."
Colloquial English's small vocabulary of empty numbers can be employed when there is uncertainty as to the precise number to use, but it is desirable to define a general range: specifically, the terms "umpteen", "umpty", and "zillion". These are derived etymologically from the range affixes:
The prefix "ump-" is added to the first two suffixes to produce the empty numbers "umpteen" and "umpty": it is of uncertain origin. A noticeable absence of an empty number is in the hundreds range.
Usage of empty numbers:
See also Placeholder name.