Questions relating to the use of numbers or numerals in speaking or writing English.

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75
votes
8answers
108k views

Plurals of acronyms, letters, numbers — use an apostrophe or not?

When I was in high school back in the 1970s, I was taught that to make a plural of an acronym, a letter, or a number, one should add an apostrophe and "s". Like I would have written this sentence, "......
25
votes
7answers
24k views

Should we use plural or singular for a fraction of a mile?

I have seen people say both 0.25 mile and 0.25 miles. Should we use plural or singular for a fraction of a mile?
10
votes
10answers
23k views

How to ask a question to get an ordinal number answer [duplicate]

Possible Duplicates: How to phrase an asking sentence that must be answered with an ordinal number? Framing a question whose answer is an ordinal number Given that I want to know Barack ...
130
votes
14answers
6k views

Why do English writers avoid explicit numerals?

The junction has a stop sign on each of the four entrances. The junction has a stop sign on each of the 4 entrances. The first is preferred, for some reason, by many English texts. Why? I haven't ...
37
votes
8answers
8k views

“1 in 10 are” or “1 in 10 is”?

Take the examples: "One in ten children are dyslexic." "One in ten children is dyslexic." "One in ten children has dyslexia." "One in ten children have dyslexia." The "one" is singular so 2 and 3 ...
22
votes
13answers
9k views

What is the name of the first decade in a century?

80s the "Eighties" 90s the "Nineties" 00s the ??? For that matter, what is the second decade called? The "tens" just doesn't sound right.
20
votes
2answers
59k views

“X times as many as” or “X times more than”

Suppose John has 5 sweets. Is there any difference between the following two sentences? Jack has 3 times as many sweets as John. Jack has 3 times more sweets than John. I prefer the first ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

Indefinite article in the “An [adjective] [number] [plural noun]” construction

I wasn't sure how best to phrase the title of this question. I'm interested in constructions of the following form: An estimated 50 people died in the bombing. 'An estimated' could be ...
4
votes
2answers
15k views

When to spell out numbers [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why do English writers avoid explicit numerals? Based on my previous question regarding spelling out monetary amounts, is there a rule of thumb when a number should be ...
61
votes
4answers
26k views

Why do eleven and twelve get unique words and not end in “-teen”?

In short, why is it not oneteen and twoteen, and we start at thirteen in English? In another thread, I supposed that despite that fact that people have ten fingers, amounts of items leading up to and ...
13
votes
4answers
9k views

How can I form a word like “quadruple” for any number I want?

I'm not sure what these are called, but how can I form a word like "quadruple" for any number I want? Like 5× as much is quintuple, what is 31× as much or 147× as much? I want to know how they are ...
6
votes
6answers
4k views

“Ten times fewer the number,” versus “one-tenth the number”?

Lately I've been hearing and reading statistics that are communicated in wording that, frankly, confuses me. Forgive me for not citing specific instances, but I can give a hypothetical statistic that ...
21
votes
6answers
2k views

19th century English texts occasionally use Germanic-style number words, such as “four-and-twenty”. When did this fall out of use?

19th century English texts occasionally use Germanic-style number words, such as "four-and-twenty", but the same text would also have the modern "twenty-four" in places (see e.g. Conan-Doyle for ...
14
votes
6answers
34k views

How to use “tens of” and “hundreds of”?

If I'm not mistaken, tens of means 10 to 99 and hundreds of means 100 to 999. Is this correct? I found in some dictionaries that tens of is actually not correct. I also found that hundreds of could ...
10
votes
1answer
2k views

How do I determine subject and subject complement in “A side-effect is the spread of commercialese to other domains.”?

Consider this example: Commercialese is an instrument of art, designed to enrich and invigorate our language—surely you will all agree with this—, and we should encourage newcomers to learn ...
26
votes
4answers
15k views

Is two-thirds plural?

Is 2/3 always, sometimes or never plural? E.g. 1a) 2/3 of the pizza were eaten. 1b) 2/3 of the pizza was eaten. 2a) 2/3 of the visitors were men. 2b) 2/3 of the visitors was men. I ...
21
votes
3answers
40k views

“Amount” vs. “number” vs. “quantity”

For what values of x does one write the number of x, the amount of x, or the quantity of x?
17
votes
13answers
18k views

How do you correctly say large numbers

I saw a post on The daily What which links to a video where a person counts from 1 to 100,000. Is he saying a large portion of the numbers wrong? Back in high school my algebra teacher was extremely ...
5
votes
2answers
5k views

Rule for adding “and” or hyphens between numbers that are spelled out fully in text

For example, take the number 342. It could be written out a number of different ways when spelled out fully. Three hundred forty two Three hundred and forty two Three hundred and forty-two What is ...
26
votes
5answers
7k views

Why is the unit of measure placed before the value for currencies? Are there other measures where the unit precedes value?

$1,000 is pronounced as "one thousand dollars". Reading from left to right, it seems like it would make more sense to write the value as: 1,000$. This way the pronunciation of the value follows the ...
10
votes
2answers
625 views

Is “-th” still a productive suffix in English?

The main question here is whether using -(e)th to create ordinals out of cardinals1 is still considered a productive suffix in English. Is it? If so, then does it matter whether we are in a formal ...
5
votes
1answer
4k views

Meaning of “x is 35 times less than y" [closed]

I’m not sure of whether this is grammatically correct, although I've encountered the same expression many times before. Most Google searches show it produces 35 times less carbon than the report ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

Reading out numbers in English

What are the accepted guidelines for reading out numbers in English? For example, should 1351 be read out as "one thousand and three hundred and fifty one", or should the "and"s be removed ...
0
votes
1answer
12k views

Numeric abbreviations in business quotes [closed]

When writing a quote for an order for products, would you write 25K or 25M to refer to 25,000 parts or pounds or units?
21
votes
6answers
10k views

“Firstly” or “first”?

Which is more correct? How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. First, thy eyes gaze deep into my soul. Second,... or There are four reasons why all should hail the Hypno-Toad. Firstly, ...
20
votes
2answers
2k views

Plurality of numbers between -1 and 1

If I recall correctly, the Académie française states that, for French, quantities comprised within [-1,1] are singular, and anything else is plural. This means, for instance, that we should say (in ...
18
votes
4answers
21k views

What follows next in the sequence “unary, binary, ternary…”?

I looked on Oxford's online dictionary and was able to find the names identifying orders of a given degree: primary secondary tertiary quaternary quinary senary septenary octonary nonary denary -- ...
13
votes
7answers
20k views

What does the term “86'd” relate to?

What does it mean when someone or something is referred to as being "86'd"?
9
votes
5answers
15k views

“Lower number” vs. “smaller number”

Is −9 a smaller number than −8? And is −9 a lower number than −8? What is the difference between lower and smaller here?
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Including units of a measure in a range

When specifying a range of values that have a unit of measure associated with them, what is the best practice for where to include the unit of measure? 1lb - 20lb Or 1 - 20lb And how ...
4
votes
4answers
4k views

How to write decimal values in words

I have 1210.802 units in a mutual fund. How do I write it in words? "One thousand two hundred and ten..." How do I write the decimal units here?
4
votes
4answers
13k views

How do they express the time, in American and British English?

I don't know if this is a good question. But as far as I know, and as I do it, American English also say "after" other than "past" in expressing times. For example, a quarter after six instead of, a ...
66
votes
5answers
6k views

When does thousand turn into thousands?

My boyfriend and I are arguing whether thousands of miles means 1000+ or 2000+ miles. The first argument is that 1000+ is over 1000 and therefore 'thousands of miles' by rounding up. The other ...
6
votes
10answers
16k views

Does “nineteen-hundreds” refer to 1900–1909 or 1900–1999?

The words "nineteen-hundreds" to me mean strictly 1900–1909. I've noticed several times that people, invariably North American, use these words to mean "the twentieth century", or 1900–1999, or ...
15
votes
2answers
845 views

Is there a system for creating words for ordinal numbers?

I'm not sure if "sequential" is the right word, but what is the system for creating a sequence of numbers like this: primary (as in 1st in choice or importance) secondary (as in 2nd in choice or ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

Fractions as phrasal (compound) adjectives

Is there a difference between a written-out fraction that serves as a noun: He gave me one half of his sandwich. and a written-out fraction serving as an adjective: I gave her a one-half ...
7
votes
3answers
520 views

Should thin spaces be used between numerals and units

After starting to use the siunitx package for typesetting units (and the numerals before the units) in LaTeX, I noticed that it typesets a single space between a numeral and a unit (a space that is ...
15
votes
3answers
976 views

Billion and other large numbers

Traditionally a billion in American English means 109 (1,000,000,000, a thousand million) while in British English it means 1012 (a million million) with milliard meaning 109. Is this still the case ...
3
votes
2answers
15k views

Reading out decimal numbers in English [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How to write decimal values in words How do you read numbers like these? 0.12 "oh point twelve", "zero point one two", "zero and twelve hundreds" And these ones? 0.345, ...
3
votes
3answers
11k views

How to write numbers in words

How do we translate 1210 into words: 1) one thousand, two hundred, and ten 2) one thousand, two hundred and ten or without the commas 3) one thousand two hundred and ten 4) one thousand two ...
2
votes
1answer
13k views

One and a half minute/minutes [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Pluralization rule for “five-year-old children”, “20 pound note”, “10 mile run” Should we use plural or singular for a fraction of a mile? ...
-1
votes
1answer
13k views

“Three-hundred forty-two” or “three-hundred and forty-two”? [closed]

So on this answer here: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/12699791/finding-the-word-version-of-a-number/12700097#comment17146082_12700097 We were having the argument whether it is “three hundred and ...
25
votes
4answers
13k views

What do we call the “rd” in “3ʳᵈ” and the “th” in “9ᵗʰ”?

Our numbers have a specific two-letter combination that tells us how the number sounds. For example 9th 3rd 301st What do we call these special sounds?
2
votes
2answers
6k views

Usage of “second/third/fourth … last”

In German there is a pattern for counting items from the end of a list. The last item is "das letzte", the one before is "das vorletzte", the one before that is "das vorvorletzte" and for each other ...
27
votes
5answers
33k views

How can I write out 1.5?

I would like to write out (1.5) in words and also (5.0). How would I do that?
21
votes
13answers
23k views

American vs. British English: meaning of “One hundred and fifty”

I've noticed that Americans do not say "and" when speaking numbers: for example, 150 would be pronounced "one hundred fifty". I and most other British-English speakers would pronounce it "one hundred ...
13
votes
4answers
35k views

What is the origin of the counting prefixes: uni-, bi-/di-, tri-, quad-, etc.?

Many English words use the prefixes uni-, bi-/di-, tri-, quad- and so on to mean one, two, three, and four. For example: A unicycle has one wheel, a bicycle two, and a tricycle three. I presume ...
9
votes
5answers
8k views

How do I pronounce “ratio 1:1”?

How do I pronounce "ratio 1:1"? Should I pronounce it "ratio 1 to 1"?
-2
votes
2answers
2k views

Do we say and write 21 / 31 / 41 item or itemS?

I've been wondering, since these example numbers end with 1, isn't it natural to use the following noun in its singular form? From what I've been seeing around on the web this does not seem to be the ...
16
votes
6answers
16k views

Why are numbers sometimes spelled out and then numerals specified as well? [closed]

I'm referring to the peculiar habit I sometimes see in formal documents, where a number is given numerically after it's spelled out. It seems quite redundant: I need five (5) kumquats, stat! (...