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Sometimes you will hear people refer to four digit numbers in terms of hundreds. For example, sometimes people will say fifteen hundred when talking about the number 1500. Is this proper?

What are the rules of usage? In my personal experience, the hundreds notation is common for values less than 2000, but rare for larger values. Can I refer to 7300 as seventy-three hundred?

I know this has been discussed in another question, but that was in terms of years. I'm asking about numbers in general.

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7 Answers 7

This usage is informal but not incorrect. I wouldn't use it in official business documents, but it can be freely used in speech or less formal contexts.

While statements like "seventy-three hundred" are rarer than their equivalents for numbers below 2000, they're perfectly intelligible and frequently used.

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I find myself saying things like "seventy-three hundred" when I'm comparing multiple figures. For example, consider a line like "the number of subscribers was two hundred. It kept growing to fifteen hundred until it settled around forty five hundred." But if you replace that with numbers in terms of thousands, I find it heavier to say. –  BeemerGuy Jan 4 '11 at 22:21
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Also, imagine talking about a processor... or computer model like the Power Macintosh 7300. I can't think of a situation so formal that it would be more appropriate to say or write "Power Macintosh seven-thousand three-hundred", except maybe a wedding invitation; let's just hope there isn't anyone that fanatic about Apple. –  Kosmonaut Jan 4 '11 at 23:12
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I would say that it mostly depends on what the numbers are used for. For years, the "hundred" form is usual in all but the most formal of contexts (like diplomas and wedding invitations). The same is true of street addresses. The White House, for example, is at "sixteen hundred" Pennsylvania Ave., not "one thousand six hundred". On the other hand, for counts of objects or people, the full form—"one thousand two hundred people"—would be only marginally more formal than the "hundred form"—"twelve hundred people". –  nohat Jan 5 '11 at 0:32
    
@nohat: The "hundred" form was used on diplomas and wedding invitations before 2000. –  Dan Feb 14 '11 at 0:57
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I think that assertion about the usage being "informal" is totally baseless. Plucking a number at random, with associated words that would almost invariably imply a "formal" context, consider "the sum of eighteen hundred", which Google Books says occurs 26,900 times. –  FumbleFingers Nov 27 '12 at 22:51

I work in a building at '4400 North First Street'; I'd never say anything other than 'forty-four hundred' for the address.

It is perfectly grammatical, and often very sensible.

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It is certainly proper grammar. From my experience, referring to four-digit numbers in the hundreds is more common in the US than in any other English-speaking country. As for 7300, seventy-three hundred is perfectly correct to say. It really all boils down to the speaker's choice. I must add, though, that for those numbers with three zeroes, thousand is preferred to hundred. Thus, 3000 is better called three thousand than thirty hundred!

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three thousand is not just better than thirty hundred I would go so far as to say that thirty hundred/forty hundred/ninety hundred/etc are not grammatical. –  nohat Jan 5 '11 at 0:28
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@nohat: To get technical: I'm not sure if "not grammatical" is quite right, but "thirty hundred" is not something a native speaker would say and it would sound odd. On the other side of the coin, saying 6321 as "sixty-three hundred twenty-one" would be odd unless you were writing a check and in the context of addresses it would be pronounced "sixty-three twenty-one". –  Wayne May 13 '11 at 12:38
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It always saddened me that, after explaining that the colon was preferable to the point (/ space / zero-separator) as a separator in numbers showing times (22:00 / 22.00 / 22 00 / 2200), I had to warn students that 22:00 was often read as twenty-two hundred (hours). –  Edwin Ashworth Nov 27 '12 at 22:37

In some places, city blocks are always referred to in terms of hundreds. For example, in Chicago it is normal to hear somebody talk about driving from the twelve hundred block to the seventy three hundred block of some street. This means going from a block with addresses of 1200-1299 to a block with addresses 7300-7399. It only works in cities with a regular grid layout where each street covers a range of exactly 100 addresses, but in that case the "hundred" is the basic unit, rather than the individual addresses themselves. So, you can sort of think of twelve hundred being grammatically analogous to twelve kilograms or twelve apples.

In general, I never encounter it in formal written documents. The only time I see it in writing is when somebody wants to explicitly capture a speaking style, such as an exact transcript, or dialog for a play. However, when reading a document out loud which says "7300," it can sometimes be idiomatic to pronounce it as seventy three hundred instead of seven thousand three hundred. ("Our Chicago office is located on the seventy three hundred block of Wabash street.")

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I can't exactly answer but I can add that Steve Jobs is often heard talking about numbers in that way during his public keynotes. So I would say that it is proper business practice, at least orally.

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I worked for a bank for 16 years. We were taught that for writing checks, for an amount of $1200, the textual amount should be One thousand two hundred, not twelve hundred.

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Not that Jeopardy! is the ultimate authority on such matters, but you can hear the "XX-hundred" format used four times in just over 30 seconds in this video clip – twice by the contestant, and twice by the host.

Clearly there's nothing wrong with this usage, and, in some contexts, it simply rings and flows more naturally than its "X-thousand, Y-hundred" counterpart.

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