I encountered an article on Dictionary.com that says that pennies are not used to refer to a sum of money but rather the coins themselves. It went on to say that the term pence was used to refer to a sum of money. I was rather dubious about this statement, partially because I never heard anybody say pence in my stay in USA. Can anybody back up this fact? I tried to google this, and the only source of information I got (other then UK currencies) that supported this was Wikipedia.
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In America, it is always two cents, not two pence. Only countries that have pounds use the word pence, as far as I know. And those that do use pennies when they are referring to a number of physical coins worth a penny each, but pence when referring to a sum of money irrespective of which coins it is represented in.
I'm not aware that "pence" is used at all in the USA.
"Penny" is sometimes used to refer to a one cent coin.
In the United Kingdom, a penny is the official name of £0.01. "Pence" is used most of the time when referring to a a number of them, or something of that value.
"50 pennies" is likely to refer to 50 1p coins, whereas "50 pence" is more likely to refer to larger denominations coming to the same value.
In USA, penny is used for the 1 cent coin ($0.01), and I have also heard pennies being used to mean "a small amount of money," such as in:
As far as I recall, I have never heard pence being used as plural of penny, except maybe when referring to the British coins.
I have visited the East coast, from upper New York state to Washington D.C. I don't know if the usage of those words changes in other places.