by Liz Walter
When teaching an intermediate class recently, I was surprised to find that very few of the students (who were from various parts of the world) knew how to say prices, so this blog will explain this very basic function and also look at some other vocabulary connected with money.
First, the prices. There is more than one correct way to say a price, but the most common one is simply to say the number of pounds followed by the number of pence (or the number of dollars followed by the number of cents):
£3.50 ‘Three fifty’
$4.95 ‘Four ninety five’
Sometimes we also say the words pounds, pence, dollars, or cents in the price. There is no difference, and neither way is better or worse. In American English, if you use these words, you have to say and in the middle. In British English, you can say and or leave it out:
£1.45 ‘One pound and forty five pence’ or ‘One pound forty five pence’
$20.80 ‘Twenty dollars and eighty cents’
If the price is an exact number of pounds or dollars, you must use those words:
£50.00 ‘Fifty pounds’
$760.00 ‘Seven hundred and sixty dollars’
We often say a instead of one before prices of £100, £1,000, etc. and also any price from £100 – £199:
£1,000,000 ‘a million pounds’ or ‘one million pounds’
$134 ‘a hundred and thirty four dollars’ or ‘one hundred and thirty four dollars’
If a British price is less than a pound, we can pronounce it in two ways:
50p ‘Fifty pence’ ‘Fifty pee’
For an American price less than a dollar, use cents.
If you are in Britain, you should also be aware that we often use informal words for money. For instance, we say quid instead of pound: I spent fifty quid on food today.
One final word of warning: do not – as my students tried to do – use the word ‘point’ when you are saying a price such as £2.30 – that is only for mathematics!