by Liz Walter

In my last post * One thousand one hundred and ninety three: how to say numbers (1)* I looked at how to say large numbers. In this post I will look at other types of numbers: mathematical numbers, telephone numbers, and years in dates.

I’ll start with words we need for talking about numbers in the context of mathematics.

For decimal numbers, we use the word **point** for the dot, and we say the numbers after the point separately:

3.2 *three point two*

9.18 *nine point one eight*

55.39* fifty-five point three nine*

For fractions, we use the word **and** before the fraction.

2 ½ *two and a half*

1 ¾ *one and three quarters*

For all fractions except *half* and *quarter*, we use ordinal numbers for the second number in the fraction:

⅘ *four fifths*

6 ⅞ *six and seven eighths*

For fractions containing numbers over 9, we use the word **over** and we say the numbers as full numbers, not separately:

15/33 *fifteen over thirty-three*

Other mathematical numbers include superscript numbers. For the superscript numbers 2 and 3, we say **squared** and **cubed**.

4^{2 }* four squared*

15^{3 }*fifteen cubed*

For other numbers, we say **to the power (of)**:

3^{19 }*three to the power of nineteen*

14^{7 }*fourteen to the power of seven*

**Negative numbers** are numbers less than zero, written with a minus sign (-) in front of them. We usually use the word **minus** to say them aloud, though it is possible to say **negative** too:

-850 *minus eight hundred and fifty/negative eight hundred and fifty*

-1.3* minus one point three/negative one point three*

Another form of numbers we often need to say aloud is telephone numbers. We say all the numbers separately, and we often pause in the middle of a long set of numbers. For the number 0, you can say **zero **or **oh **/əʊ/:

01283 569904 *zero one two eight three, five six nine, nine zero four*

In British English, when two numbers next to each other are the same, we sometimes say **double**:

01223 455933 *zero/oh one double two three, four double five, nine double three*

Finally, let’s look at years and how we pronounce them when we say them aloud.

1500/1900 *fifteen hundred/nineteen hundred*

2000 *(the year) two thousand*

1904* nineteen hundred and four/nineteen oh four*

2005 *two thousand and five/twenty oh five*

1945 *nineteen forty-five*

2016 *two thousand and sixteen/twenty sixteen*

Numbers are an important part of the language, and it can be difficult to know how to use them in different contexts. I hope these two posts have helped.

Pingback: Three and three quarters: How to say numbers (2) – Cambridge Dictionary About words blog (Sep 14, 2016) | Editorial Words

Four minus a quarter. Or Three plus three quarters.

Pingback: Three and three quarters: How to say numbers (2) – learningenglish988

Pingback: Three and three quarters: How to say numbers (2) | Editorials Today

Very good and really useful post. Thanks a lot.!

Very useful, thanks alot.

Really useful thanksful

Reblogged this on StatsLife.

Thank you so much..These terms are very useful on our daily basis.

You are awesome.

I’ve been expecting a post like this for a long time. Thanks a lot, it’s very helpful as I am a chemist. Thus, numbers is me everyday tool. Though I’ve got a question: is there an easier way to say powers in English? I mean, rather than saying ‘ to the power (of)’ we might say ‘three up 4’, for instance?

I’m looking forward to hearing you about more posts like this one

That’s a great idea, but I don’t think so! I’m not a mathematician, but as far as I know, we always say ‘to the power of’.

Very useful, thanks so much.

Very nice and useful information.

Got all the information I needed, many thanks!!

Pingback: Three and three quarters: How to say numbers (2) – shukrimahmoodmohamed

But when speaking about physical hight, don´t we say ´one seventy-five´?

In British English at least, we’d say ‘one metre seventy five’.

I very like Cambridge…

Very well written and very useful article.

In India, we usually say 3/4 or fraction as ‘Three by four’

Is it wrong?

That’s interesting! I wouldn’t say it’s wrong if it’s the usual way to say it. In that case, it’s just an Indian English usage as opposed to a British English usage. We only say ‘three by four’ when we’re talking about the measurement of a 2-dimensional shape, e.g. a piece of wood.

what is the proper way for providing flight number?

I *think* that if they have two numbers, they’d be e.g. BA twenty seven, but if the numbers are longer, they’d be said individually, e.g. BA three oh five. But I’m willing to be corrected by a more frequent flyer!

Reblogged this on egilbi.

Dear Liz,

It’s a wonderful post. Thank you very much.

I think mathematical numbers related to division (6 ÷ 2, for example) weren’t dealt with here. If you don’t mind, just leave us a comment on it, please?

Thanks, again.

We would say ‘six divided by three’.