Which version is grammatically correct (given that I hopefully provided at least one correct alternative)?

[...] the company yielded a result to the amount of −€6.680 billion in 2008.


[...] the company yielded a result to the amount of €−6.680 billion in 2008.

Since I'm not a native speaker, I'd appreciate any other tips/corrections as well.

  • 3
    We don't use signs in these kind of contexts. I'd simply say the company had a loss of 6.6 billion., etc.
    – Noah
    Sep 1, 2013 at 9:56
  • Ok thanks. What if I wanted to write that the NIAT (net income after taxes) was ... [insert one of the above]? What would then be the right one? :)
    – henry
    Sep 1, 2013 at 10:00
  • 1
    I would still avoid using the currency sign. I’d write, “The company’s NIAT was –2.84 million euro”, typing out the name of the currency instead of using the € sign. Sep 1, 2013 at 10:07
  • Thanks for your comments so far. So how come in these two texts (arbitrary google results after a 2 minute search) both use only text-currencies and symbol-currencies? bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-31/… and bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-31/… I'd say the text-variant is clearly the right/common one, but there are phrases which say: [...] to $123. Would that be an inconsistency then? I just want to understand it better.
    – henry
    Sep 1, 2013 at 11:12
  • 2
    Actually, in text, if the net income after tax is a loss, say that. "The company made a net loss after tax of €2.84m"
    – Andrew Leach
    Sep 1, 2013 at 11:42

2 Answers 2


In general, you would not write out the minus sign in descriptive text.

The company suffered losses in excess of $7 billion.

The company suffered a 2.4 million dollar deficit.

The words "losses" and "deficit" make the minus sign redundant and unnecessary.

The only example I can think of where you might need to be explicit would be a table, where you might be showing both losses and profits. In that case you would probably use the (loss) syntax common in financial docs:

Company X: $2.1M

Company Y: ($1.4M)

Though you could conceivably use a minus sign as well and your point would be made clear:

Company X: $2.1M

Company Y: -$1.4M

  • 1
    +1, except that you have both "$" and "dollar" in $2.4 million dollar. Sep 1, 2013 at 13:02
  • 5
    More than just being redundant and unnecessary, I’d say a minus sign when dealing with losses actually change the meaning. A net loss of –2.4 million dollars is a net gain of 2.4 million dollars. Sep 1, 2013 at 13:17
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Good point, I edited my op. Lynn, thanks.
    – henry
    Sep 1, 2013 at 13:28
  • 2
    Minor style note: Avoid using a hyphen for a minus sign when possible. If a proper minus sign isn't available, it's generally acceptable to use a figure dash or en dash instead. They generally have the same appearance as a minus sign (the most important thing being width) whereas a hyphen does not. Sep 1, 2013 at 17:53
  • 1
    @PieterGeerkens I can't speak for the rest of Europe, but would say that, in British English, altho' billion used to mean 10^12, we have now almost exclusively adopted the Am usage of 10^9.
    – TrevorD
    Sep 1, 2013 at 23:39

The minus sign is always the leftmost: -(rest of the symbols).

The currency symbol is always adjacent to the figure: (amount).

To avoid ambiguity and help readability, one may place the minus sign in parentheses:
(-) €6.680

  • Thanks. I always like to add a minor space, generated by \, in LaTeX, between symbols and figures (unrelated to which side the symbol is on). It's maybe wrong but I prefer this typographical quirk ever since I picked up on it in some LaTeX-related discussion.
    – henry
    Sep 3, 2013 at 9:57
  • 3
    Never ever have I seen (-) €123, and if I had I wouldn't have known what to make of it. Is it an optional character like in "a(n)"? Why is there spacing between, does it apply to the previous word maybe? Is it ascii art? If I'd not be on this page I'd have no idea what this means. Definitely don't use that to avoid "ambiguity and help readability", moving the symbol further away from what it applies to and introducing symbols that carry additional but unintended meaning would not achieve either goal. Maybe it's conventional in field XYZ but it's neither less ambiguous nor more readable.
    – Luc
    Nov 27, 2020 at 22:03

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