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I have a similar question to the one below When writing out large numbers in words, should commas be placed at thousand separators?

I'm writing a program to spell out large numbers, and am unsure if there should be a comma or an "and" in the following numerals, before the "24":

101024 "One hundred and one thousand, and twenty-four"

1024 "One thousand and twenty-four"

I think that this is rarely a problem in real life, but what would be the correct way of doing this?

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4 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Not clear whether the questioner wants British or American usage: the British normally use and before the tens position, as in the original example.

The additional examples given in OldPro's answer would in British English be:

"Twelve thousand one hundred and twenty point two four" (since there's no currency sign, the decimals should not be assumed to be cents, but £12,120.24 would be read as "Twelve thousand one hundred and twenty pounds and twentyfour pence" (on a cheque I would also spell out the main currency like this, but follow it with the minor denomination in figures, e.g. "...pounds 24" unless it is zero, in which case I would write a long dash).

"Two million fifty-four thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine"

I would not normally use commas, but that's just a matter of personal choice. Just make sure that the addition of a comma cannot change the meaning (especially on a cheque).

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Thanks, I was referring to British English usage, as I read on wiki that in American english cheques did not have any "and"s at all –  simonzack Jun 11 '13 at 4:24
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Although not directly related to the placement of commas when writing large numbers in words, I would like to point out that many non-English speaking countries (I'm thinking primarily of European countries, as I can't vouch for others) use the comma to denote the decimal point when writing out digits. They also use spaces instead of commas to break the digits into groups of three (as @EdwinAshworth has illustrated).

So, while not advocating using commas as decimal points, I would advocate - depending on the likely audience - avoiding the use of commas entirely when writing large numbers in digits so as to avoid possible confusion by some readers, for example (using Edwin Ashworth's illustration):

use 101 024 instead of 101,024 because some readers may read the latter as one hundred & one point zero two four.

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Very good point, I've had some fun in the past transferring data betwen the UK and Spain for this very reason! –  RemarkLima Jun 10 '13 at 12:55
    
Good point indeed, as I usually use commas to separate numbers and I will try to change that! –  simonzack Jun 11 '13 at 4:25
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I state without much authority that commas are placed similarly to numerals at the thousands, millions, and billions marks, and that "and" is only used at the decimal point. It's just how I've seen it done on checks where it is required to spell out the amount.

101024 "One hundred and one thousand, twenty-four"

1024 "One thousand, twenty-four"

12120.24 "Twelve thousand, one hundred twenty and twenty four cents"

2,054,999 "Two millon, fifty-four thousand, nine hundred ninety-nine"

I think using "and" other than for the decimal point detracts from readability. Commas are much more debatable but it makes some sort of sense to put them where I say in that it means that the numbers spelled out between commas never reach into the thousands.

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Odd, I've never seen commas used in the "amount" part of a check. I found 3 examples online; none of them used a comma. See for yourself. I saw one with a dash, but that looked odd to me, too. Then again, I don't write too many checks that big. –  J.R. Jun 10 '13 at 9:54
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Old Pro, there seems to be a USA/UK difference here, regarding use of the word and. In England and the rest of the UK, it is not about decimal points. In the UK, 1024 would be written out and pronounced as "One thousand and twenty-four". 101024 would be written out and pronounced as "One hundred and one thousand, and twenty-four". –  Tristan Jun 10 '13 at 11:09
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Responding to the illustration of "and" possibly denoting a decimal point, if I were writing the sum £12,120.24 on a cheque, I would write Twelve thousand, one hundred & twenty pounds and twenty-four pence. So, yes, I would use "and" at the decimal point, but I would name the larger unit (pounds, dollars, etc.) before the "and". (I accept that the "and" in one hundred and twenty is a US/UK difference.) I would never use and alone to denote a decimal point. –  TrevorD Jun 10 '13 at 12:16
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@Tristan, yes I'm speaking about US usage, and here we sometimes use "and" as you suggest is common in the UK ("101 Dalmatians" comes to mind, nearly always spoken as "one hundred and one Dalmatians"), but generally the "and" is optional and not used when writing out large numbers. In fact, it's not used for a decimal point either except when talking about currency; "point" is the more usual word. –  Old Pro Jun 10 '13 at 20:50
    
@OldPro: I would pronounce the movie title "One Hundred and One Dalmations" but I would write on my check "One Hundred One Dollars". –  J.R. Jun 11 '13 at 14:22
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I don't think a bank handling an account with that amount of money in it is likely to be too captious.

"One hundred and one thousand and twenty-four" and "One hundred and one thousand, and twenty-four" are both (if we know we're dealing with numbers rather than additions), unmistakably, spelt-out forms of 101 024 (which is how we taught kids to write longer numbers; we were taught 101,024 in my day).

Since neither leads to interpretational confusion, it becomes a style choice (as with 101 024 rather than 101,024). Is the comma'd version

a) easier on the brain

b) easier on the eye

c) easier on the reader-out?

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