# Spelling out numbers in written dialogue [closed]

I cannot locate accurate answers anywhere regarding these. My explanations are below each example. I believe that all examples may be correct but am unsure. I'm just looking for some confirmation. In which, if any, would you change the punctuation?

(1) Mike said, "The team needed ten point five million.” [No hyphens because 'ten point five million' isn't modifying anything. Good as is?]

(2) Mike said, "The team needed ten-point-five-million dollars." [Hyphenate because 'ten-point-five' is modifying dollars, correct?]

(3) Mike said, "The figures represented a ten-point-five-million-dollar-a-year increase in revenues." [Hyphenated because 'ten-point-five-million-dollar-a-year' is modifying 'increase'. Good?]

(4) "Mike said, "The figures represented a ten-point-five-percent increase." [Hyphenated because 'ten-point-five-percent' is modifying 'increase', correct?]

(5) Mike said, "The figures represented a ten-point-five-percent-a-year increase." [Hyphenated because 'ten-point-five-percent-a-year' is modifying 'increase', yes?]

(6) Joe said, "She displayed one-hundred-and-ten-percent commitment." [Hyphenated because 'one-hundred-and-ten-percent' modifies 'commitment'.]

(7) Dave said, "I'll give it one hundred and ten percent." [No hyphens because 'one hundred and ten percent' isn't modifying anything.]

(8) Louise said, "The interest rate is at twelve point seven." [No hyphens because 'twelve point seven' isn't modifying anything, correct?]

(9) Louise said, "The interest rate is at twelve-point-seven percent." [Hyphenated because 'twelve point seven' is modifying 'percent', right?]

(10) Louise said, "I need one-hundred-percent commitment from you." [Hyphenated because 'one-hundred-percent' modifies 'commitment', correct?]

## closed as primarily opinion-based by David M, Bradd Szonye, TimLymington, choster, anongoodnurseMar 3 '14 at 9:32

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• I think Prof Lawler's eleven-year-old boy rule answers this. – Andrew Leach Mar 1 '14 at 21:06
• @AndrewLeach yes, I've just read JL's 'eleven-year-old boy rule' and the ensuing comments, but I am still unclear as to why the word 'boy' escapes hyphenation. Shouldn't it be 'the eleven-year-old-boy rule'? – WS2 Mar 1 '14 at 21:31
• Why use words and not numerals? What's wrong with "10.5 million"? or "110 percent commitment"? or "interest rate of 12.7 percent"? There's more than one way to swing a dead cat. – rhetorician Mar 1 '14 at 21:50
• Also, this question seems suspiciously similar to several others you've asked recently. You should edit those or post bounties asking for more information, rather than repeating minor variations of the same basic question. – Bradd Szonye Mar 2 '14 at 3:31
• There are no accurate answers because there is no general consensus on how to write things like this. – Peter Shor Mar 2 '14 at 6:02

These are wrong. You do not hyphenate numbers when they are used as determiners because numbers are not treated the way most compound adjectives are.

Why not? First, because numbers are unambiguous, so you never need to hyphenate them to avoid ambiguity (which you sometimes need to do for compound adjectives). Second, because "fifty-seven-thousand-three-hundred-and-twenty-two hats" looks absolutely terrible. I'm not sure of the correct way to treat (3) and (5), so I'm leaving them out. I think the rules say that you should put the hyphens in those, though.

(1) Mike said, "The team needed ten point five million.”

(2) Mike said, "The team needed ten point five million dollars."

(4) Mike said, "The figures represented a ten point five percent increase."

(6) Joe said, "She displayed one hundred and ten percent commitment."

(7) Dave said, "I'll give it one hundred and ten percent."

(8) Louise said, "The interest rate is at twelve point seven."

(9) Louise said, "The interest rate is at twelve point seven percent."

(10) Louise said, "I need one hundred percent commitment from you."

I can't find a reliable source that shows I'm correct, but I can give you an example where it is done this way:

Seventy-six trombones led the big parade
With a hundred and ten cornets close at hand.

(1) Mike said, "The team needed ten-point-five million”. [I would argue that 'ten-point-five modifies 'million' hence hyphens are needed. My own convention would change the position of the full stop.]

(2) to (6) All fine, except for my positioning of full stop, above.

(7) Dave said, "I'll give it one-hundred-and-ten percent". [ Hyphenated because modifying 'percent'.]

All the rest fine except for positioning of full stop.

• The dastardly phantom does their worst again! 'Put-up or shut-up' is the appropriate metaphor for phantoms. – WS2 Mar 1 '14 at 21:33
• Looks to me like it's wrong. Ten point five is not an adjective qualifying million. Ten point five million is a single amount. Similarly for 7: 110% is a single amount. – Andrew Leach Mar 1 '14 at 21:40
• I agree. That's the way I originally had it. – whippoorwill Mar 1 '14 at 21:41
• So, Andrew, what's your verdict with the ten examples? Are they all correct, except for the two you had pointed out? Did I initially have them all correct? – whippoorwill Mar 1 '14 at 21:45
• @whippoorwill I'd use figures and not write them out at all. It's completely unnatural. – Andrew Leach Mar 1 '14 at 22:03