1

I have come across the following three spoken variants for the fraction ⅞:

  1. Seven by eight
  2. Seven over eight
  3. Seven into eight

I am also aware of seven-eighths but I don't want to use that as it isn't practical for larger numbers. As an Indian, the most common variant I have heard is the first one but somehow that doesn't seem right. Besides, since English isn't our native language, I wouldn't want to trust it. I want to know from native speakers what they use and what's the correct way to refer to such numbers.

To make things even more complicated, most Indians use the third variant to mean something like 7×8, which I guess should be more appropriately referred to as seven times eight.

  • 2
    I have mostly heard the second variant. The first appears in certain special cases, such as "pi by two". But I'm not sure "five hundred and forty six over eight hundred and twenty three" is any better than "five hundred and forty six eight hundred and twenty thirds". – Simon B Nov 14 '14 at 8:36
  • For your question, there is no right or wrong, there is only clear or unclear. For something long, like Simon B's example, I'd say five-four-six divided by eight-two-three. And I'd say it twice, or ask the person I was talking to, to read it back. (For something short, like 31/32, I'd say thirty-one over thirty-two.) – ab2 Jul 29 '15 at 3:47
  • For those who disagree with the notion that the seven eighths style of pronunciation "isn't practical for larger numbers", see this other question. – John Y Jul 29 '15 at 4:01
  • Just out of curiosity, where does one encounter fractions like 546/832? I remember seeing these kinds of ungainly numbers in math class and my teachers always used x over y. – michael_timofeev Jul 29 '15 at 4:40
8

There could be some differences between English speaking countries, but in Australia only "seven over eight" would be understood as 7/8.

"Seven by eight" could be interpreted as 7x8 but could also be interpreted as the dimensions of a rectangle (length by width).

"Seven into eight" would be interpreted as 8/7.

  • Also seven on eight. – andy256 Nov 14 '14 at 8:46
  • And then there's the special case one into zero, which I would interpret as Ø. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 14 '14 at 9:48
  • I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned the simpler "seven eighths" or "five sixths" style for simple fractions. – Polynomial Nov 14 '14 at 11:15
  • 2
    @Polynomial: that's probably because Amit did mention them and say he did not want to use them. – Colin Fine Nov 14 '14 at 11:46
  • In the UK likewise: only the over variant would be understood. – Colin Fine Nov 14 '14 at 11:47
5

Larger numbers such as 546/823 are normally said as five hundred and forty-six over eight hundred and twenty-three.

3

Seven eighths is quite feasible and is the same with almost all fractions: the numerator in cardinal numbers and the denominator in ordinal numbers unless the denominator is not a simple number.

  • 2
    Amit explicitly said he didn't want to use this, as it's not practical for larger numbers. -1. – Colin Fine Nov 14 '14 at 11:47
  • 2
    @ColinFine: But OP also said he is not a native English speaker and he would like to hear from native English speakers to see what they use. As a native English speaker, I can say that seven eighths is by far the predominant way I've heard the fraction 7/8 spoken. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've never heard anything but that form except in math class. – John Y Jul 29 '15 at 4:00
  • "Not practical for larger numbers" might mean "ambiguous". Is three hundred and twenty seven thousandths 300.027 or 0.327 or 320/7000? – Peter Shor Jul 29 '15 at 21:54
2

Oregon State Standard document Numbers are read according to their length. Common fraction denominators use ordinal numbers (third, eighth, etc.). Otherwise, number over number.

0

As native English speakers in the US, we commonly pronounce 7/8 as "seven eighths". Smaller fractions can get to be an ungainly mouthful quite quickly and certainly take a but more time to say correctly. eg. 43/54 would be "forty-three fifty-fourths" and 327/1000 would be "three-hundred, twenty-seven thousandths" and 693/4697 "six-hundred, ninety-three four-thousand, six-hundred, ninety-sevenths"...but that's leaning towards the impractical as mentioned by Peter S!

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