Numbers

Simple numbers

Learning the numbers in English is done fairly early on. Counting up to a hundred is fairly simple even if you haven’t been learning English for a long time. It get’s a little more difficult however when we go higher. Let’s have a recap of the bigger numbers as well as clarifying a few things.

In British English, whenever there is a number after a hundred, we have to join it with ‘and‘. You will often hear natives shorten this to an ‘n‘ sound.

805 = eight hundred and five

🇺🇸 In American English the ‘and’ is often dropped. (e.g “nine hundred ninety nine” not “nine hundred and ninety nine”). This depends on where (and whom) you speak to though.
Here is a table showing where the ‘and‘ is placed in different numbers up to the millions range.
number millions hundred thousands + ten thousands thousand hundreds + tens ones
87 eighty seven
103 one hundred and three
125 one hundred and twenty five
200 two hundred
208 two hundred and eight
2,500 two thousand five hundred
35,005 thirty five thousand and five
858,645 eight hundred and fifty eight thousand six hundred and forty five
2,450,803 two million four hundred and fifty thousand eight hundred and three
9,999,999 nine million nine hundred and ninety nine thousand nine hundred and ninety nine

Decimal points

When we read decimal points in english (e.g 57.88) we read the number before the decimal point as a regular number. After the decimal point though we read each digit individually.

78.50 = seventy eight point five zero

Here are some examples showing how to read a few more decimal numbers.

number before decimal point decimal point after decimal point
5.5 five point five
7.85 seven point eight five
15.15 fifteen point one five
20.350 twenty point three five zero
30.006 thirty point zero zero six

Telephone numbers

When we read telephone numbers we often read out each digit individually.

07521 891532 = zero seven five two one eight nine one five three two

In British English we can also use the words ‘double‘ (for groups of two), or ‘triple‘ for groups of three). This however isn’t used in American English.

07771 556672 = zero triple seven one double five double six seven two

Sometimes you’ll hear the number ‘0’ pronounced as ‘oh’ (the letter) e.g 520 = five two oh.

Dates

The names of numbers change slightly when we talk about dates. Instead of one, two, three etc we have the first, second and third. After the third we add ‘th’ to the end of a number, the spelling does however change ever so slightly with some. After we get past the twentieth the pattern repeats (e.g twenty first, twenty second etc).

  1. first
  2. second
  3. third
  4. fourth
  5. fifth
  6. sixth
  7. seventh
  8. eighth
  9. ninth
  10. tenth
  11. eleventh
  12. twelfth
  13. thirteenth
  14. fourteenth
  15. fifteenth
  16. sixteenth
  17. seventeenth
  18. eighteenth
  19. nineteenth
  20. twentieth

Also sometimes when written down we will see dates such as ‘5 December’, ‘2 June’, ‘3 August’. When reading these out we will need to add a few extra words (‘the‘ & ‘of‘) and change the reading of the number.

5 December = the fifth of December

2 June = the second of June

3 August = the third of August

🇺🇸 In American English the month comes before the day and we don’t need a definite article before so… July 6 = July sixth.

Other symbols

There are other symbols that you will find around numbers, particularly in maths / statistics.

‘-‘ = minus/ negative

e.g ‘-50’ = minus fifty

 

‘%’ = percent

e.g ‘80%’ = eighty percent

 

‘+’ = plus

e.g ‘2 + 2’ = two plus two

 

‘x’ = times

e.g ‘5x’ = five times

 

‘=’ = equals

e.g ‘3 + 3 = 6’ = three plus three equals six

Practise exercise

Fill in the gap for each sentence:-

673,301
73,100
50,001
78.20
356.01
10.5
3 October
21 November
20 + 20 = 40
20.50 - 10.50 = 10