So, is it possible to use words such as the "threepence", "elevenpence" etc. for sums in new pence (introduced after 1971)? For example, to read the value of £6.03 as "six pounds and threepence" (pronounced as "threppence" or somehow similar) - how (in)correct it is?

Thanks for the answers.

I'm sorry for my English, it isn't native for me (I'm Russian).

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    British Money studyenglishtoday.net/british-money.html – user66974 Jul 6 '15 at 22:09
  • It is possible, but very unusual. This is not usually done in conversation. You would more usually use something like 20p (pron. twehn-tee pee) – AJFaraday Jul 7 '15 at 10:10
  • You may have noticed that almost all the answers are expressions of personal opinion. So you have no way of knowing which is right. I am old but left this terminology behind me with the penny. Everyone I know says pee. But I don't know everyone. Who to believe? What to do? I advise against using any phrase of this sort until you have encountered it yourself. If you've never heard it used, why would you want to use it. – David Mar 30 '18 at 22:11

Twopence, tuppence and threepence do still get said but are fading out of use. Thruppence was uncommon before decimalization and very rare now because there hasn't for a long time been a three pence piece. Pence are such a minor unit of currency now, people don't have so much need to refer to them.

Ngram of all four words shows the decline (at least in books but I think the spoken word has behaved the same way).

For someone to use those words in a foreign accent would be slightly strange. It's mostly the preserve of the elderly more venerable among us who remember the currency before decimalization.

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    Right on the money – Edwin Ashworth Jul 6 '15 at 22:08
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    I remember it well even though I'm a Yank and barely sixty. Even had to learn to multiply and divide in that system in an English school, third form. – Brian Donovan Jul 6 '15 at 22:32
  • Technically, there is still a three pence piece -- part of the Maundy money given annually by the reigning monarch. While these are legal tender (for 3 [new] pence), they are worth quite a lot more to collectors (a set of four -- 1p, 2p, 3p, 4p -- would cost around £200). – TripeHound Jul 7 '15 at 11:33
  • The elderly hated the new currency, which is why they use the word pee — contempt for something that is not a penny, expressed in the aural association with urine. – David Mar 30 '18 at 22:15

"threepence", "elevenpence"

are fine for spoken English; 'threppence' is well understood too. Even if the correct form is 3p. 11p. Three pee.

Thruppence will only work if you are talking to the elderly. And even they will be delighted but unable to do the maths if you mention florins (10p), Half-crowns (twelve and a half pence), crowns (25p) (commemorative coinage).

Angels are rare even in Elizabethan historical drama; but are a gimme for 50p.

Guineas (£1:1:0) will probably still be remembered with nostalgia on the race course or the sales-room.

@Avon this very minute has saved me the trouble of adding an Ngram.

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  • Please feel free to add an Ngram for those other words – Avon Jul 6 '15 at 22:20
  • This post is confusing as it seems to mix up old-style "pence" and decimal "p". Also, my understanding is that the sovereign always had a face value of one pound; it is the guinea which had a value of one pound one shilling. – Nate Eldredge Jul 6 '15 at 22:22
  • @NateEldredge Your' right. Chagrin and remorse. – Hugh Jul 6 '15 at 22:26
  • @Avon : Florins & Half-crowns echo the graph for twopence, threepence. Crown of course goes off the scale. Sixpence is the surprising top runner. – Hugh Jul 6 '15 at 22:41
  • Why only the elderly? I am neither elderly nor British, and have only spent maybe 6 months total in Britain, but I know the meaning of almost all of them. Though I had no idea of the value of an angel, I knew only from Shakespeare - and likewise a 'doit'. – jamesqf Jul 7 '15 at 5:03

You'll occasionally hear these old fashioned words for numbers of pence in an informal colloquial setting, but it's rare and confined to older people.

Also, some idioms which refer to pre-decimal money are still sometimes heard, for example "twopenny-hal'penny" (pronounced "tuppenny hayp-ny") is a colloquial adjective meaning "cheap, shoddy, or valueless. "A few bob" is an old-fashioned way of saying "a modest amount of money" (e.g. "I was just trying to earn a few bob"). "Bent as a nine bob note" means "very corrupt, totally fraudulent, not at all legitimate" etc. These are all a bit old fashioned but I still hear them among some of my fellow London speakers, especially the older ones.

There are some more colourful terms still. "Threepenny bits" (pronounced "throopenny bits") is rhyming slang for a part of a woman's body.

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Penny's are not worth much now. The old common usages - threeppence (quarter of a shilling), sixpence (half a shilling), nineteen shillings and eleven pence ha'penny (the price a shop put on goods to tempt (because less than a pound (twenty shillings)) - are meaningless today and so archaic only.

But low-number pence, '5 punce', '10 punce' are used - less than '5 pee' and '10 pee' certainly, but used and increasingly so in my experience. Higher value pence are sometimes called 'pence', never 'punce' and often 'pee'.

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Three pence, even in decimal coinage, is thruppence. No one ever says 'punce' as Dan claims. 6p can still be called sixpence, but it's more likely to be referred to as six pence.

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  • Use citations in answers, if you please. – lbf Mar 30 '18 at 14:39

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