I find it very strange that the top results on Google for "how to read decimal" give me a very strange way to read them - as fractions.
I have learnt to read the digits individually and it makes a lot of sense. There is no fumbling with which "-ths" the fractional part is, and there's no confusion for the listener. The ESE QA here and here also agree with me.
However, I find that the system of reading decimals as fractions is being widely taught and accepted.
The top result here has an example: What is the numerical value of "two hundred thousandths"? Three students gave the answers as follows:
- Student 1: 200,000.
- Student 2: 0.200
- Student 3: 0.00002
Apparently only Student 2 is right. The explanation given is that the individual answers when converted to words would be:
- Student 1: two hundred thousand
- Student 2: two hundred thousandths
- Student 3: two hundred-thousandths
And that Student 3 is wrong because the question did not contain a hyphen.
But here's what I don't understand: How do you state the hyphen when actually speaking the number out loud? Do you say "two hundred hyphen thousandths", or do you simply say "t-w-o hundredthousandths" (saying the second word as compressed as possible)?
According to other sources like this video, even the question is wrong, as the "correct" answer by Student 2 should actually be read as "two tenths", ignoring the insignificant zeros.
I am trying to understand how this system came to be and why it is accepted over the simpler system of reading out the digits individually after the decimal point:
- Student 1: two hundred thousand.
- Student 2: zero point two.
- Student 3: zero point zero zero zero zero two.