Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

It seems like "%100" should be correct if "$1" is correct.

share|improve this question
    
WTH (Wire Tire Hire) does %100 mean? –  muntoo Jan 29 '11 at 5:36
1  
I don't understand the question. What is the claimed analogy between the two? –  ShreevatsaR Jan 29 '11 at 5:43
3  
@ShreevatsaR: I guess the question is why we write $1 and not 1$, but 100% and not %100. It's about unit placement. –  RegDwigнt Jan 29 '11 at 5:44
3  
@RegDwight: But % is not a unit; it's dimensionless and just means "divided by 100". And most units are placed after the number anyway — "5 cm", "320 Hz" etc. — so it's not clear why the question is asked about %. Perhaps the question is about why "$" is special in that it can go before the number, but until the questioner clarifies we can't be sure. :-) –  ShreevatsaR Jan 29 '11 at 6:03
1  
In Turkish, we use %100. –  Mehper C. Palavuzlar Jan 29 '11 at 10:48
show 2 more comments

6 Answers

The position of the currency symbol depends on local rules

  • 100,00 F
  • 100,00 €
  • $100.00
  • kr100,00

This is because the world hates programmers

share|improve this answer
    
Yes, and some countries write €100 and others write 100 €. –  Hugo Nov 5 '11 at 9:17
    
1  
@Hugo: Even better you can have €100.20, 100€20, 100.20€. Not to mention that certain countries use comma instead of dot for the decimal places. –  nico Nov 5 '11 at 11:29
    
It's note solely because of hate. It is because there have to be localization and internationalization specialists as well :) –  skuntsel Apr 16 '13 at 6:09
    
to make things more complicated, various country vary on whether you separate euro symbol with space, so variants are: €100, € 100, 100€, 100 € –  vartec Apr 16 '13 at 16:28
add comment

It is the currency symbol that is the odd usage here.

% is a shorthand notation for 'per cent' that has developed since Roman times: http://www.roma.unisa.edu.au/07305/symbols.htm#Percent - it makes for it to follow values (think 100 per cent)

I can't seem to find anything about why so many currency signs precede the value, though.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Writing $1.00 instead of 1.00$ was to prevent fraud, it's harder to add digits between the number and the $.

share|improve this answer
3  
Sounds reasonable. Have a cite? –  user362 Nov 5 '11 at 20:10
add comment

Different conventions apply to currency symbols and other types of symbol. English contains many conflicting conventions, in many cases because the conflicting conventions were each inherited from a different source. The USA currency prefix position was probably influenced by that of the British currency prefix which I suspect came from the Romans and might reflect Roman conventions or Latin word ordering. The positioning of abbreviations for temperature and other units of measure may have come from other sources.

In short, English is exuberantly inconsistent.

share|improve this answer
add comment

In SI, units follow the number,

  • 5 km (Five kilometers)
  • 300 K (three hundred Kelvin)
  • 999 V (999 volts)

Currency is not an SI unit and so follows a different ISO standard 4217.

[Wikipedia article on ISO 4217]

share|improve this answer
    
ISO 4217 does not cover the position of currency symbols like £ and $, which follow local conventions. –  Andrew Leach Apr 16 '13 at 10:45
add comment

% (Percent) is french, meaning if you had 5%, you're actually saying "5 per hundred", as cent means hundred in french. So if you're saying 5 in 100 people are born blind, that's "5 per hundred people are born blind", (5%) where as saying %5 would be "Per hundred 5 people are blind", which makes less sense.

share|improve this answer
    
Yes, so why do you say $5 or £5 then? –  tchrist Apr 16 '13 at 3:10
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.