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I've noticed that Americans do not say "and" when speaking numbers: for example, 150 would be pronounced "one hundred fifty".

I and most other British-English speakers would pronounce it "one hundred and fifty".

I've seen a few different arguments on the net about which is "better", and something that is often asserted on the American side is that the "and" represents a decimal point - so "one hundred and fifty" would be interpreted as 100.50.

This struck me as odd, since although I see a lot of American movies and TV, I don't think I've ever heard anyone actually do this.

So my question: is this "and = decimal point" actually used in the USA, and can anyone cite some examples (maybe on youtube?)?

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  • 5
    "And" for the decimal seems to me common when speaking of money, but not so common as far as i can tell in other contexts.
    – Tim
    Sep 28, 2010 at 22:05
  • 4
    Indeed, I haven't heard this usage either. (I'm also a Brit.)
    – Noldorin
    Sep 28, 2010 at 22:18
  • 4
    i'd say one fiddy
    – Jason
    Sep 29, 2010 at 0:01
  • 3
    In darts you need the 'and' to give the score a more pleasing rhythm. One hundred and eighty! Sep 29, 2010 at 23:03
  • 2
    I was watching the Australian movie Fatty Finn the other day. Set in the 1930s, when Australia used pounds, shillings and pence. Fatty asks the pawnshop owner the price of the crystal set he wants. Afterward Fatty moans: "Seventeen and six? Where am I supposed to get seventeen and six, mister?"
    – GEdgar
    Aug 15, 2011 at 17:32

13 Answers 13

35

When I learned this “rule” (in first grade, I believe), it was explained that and separates the whole part from the fractional part: 2⅔=two and two thirds. The word and would only represent the decimal point in decimal numbers when they are read out in the formal “fractional” reading of decimals, as 2.3=two and three tenths, or 1.75=one and seventy-five one-hundredths. That is, according to this rule, *one hundred and fifty is ungrammatical because, if it is supposed to mean 150, it should be one hundred fifty, and if it is supposed to be mean 100.50, it should be one hundred and fifty one-hundredths. The rationale behind the rule is that you should only have one and in a phrase, so if the number were 403⅞, you wouldn’t say four hundred and three and seven eighths.

Of course, most of the time the decimal point is read as point: 2.3=two point three; 1.75=one point seven five or one point seventy-five; 100.50=one hundred point five zero, one hundred point five oh, or one hundred point fifty. The fractional reading of decimal numbers also starts to become a bit ridiculous if there are more than three digits after the decimal point: nobody would say 3.14159265=three and fourteen million one hundred fifty-nine thousand two hundred sixty-five one hundred millionths.

As you have undoubtedly observed, many Americans don’t follow the rule about and only being used to separate whole and fractional parts, and insert and just before the units of a number less than one hundred, although the forms without and are quite common too.

457 four hundred fifty-seven or four hundred and fifty-seven
2001 two thousand one or two thousand and one
1,000,001 one million one or one million and one

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  • 9
    I don't believe I have ever heard anybody say "one and seventy-five one-hundredths" and the like. The only place I have encountered it is in American fiction: I noticed it in some early Heinlein stories, and thought it bizarre. It sounds as if it was actually taught, then.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 11, 2011 at 11:17
  • 8
    FWIW, this was the rule I was taught in primary school as well.
    – wfaulk
    Aug 15, 2011 at 18:39
  • Amazing that teachers feel they have so much time to burn on such obscurities. Or were you in the fast stream? I can't think of one single incident of being misunderstood using 'xxx and xx' format or more than one 'and' in a phrase, in over 26 years in international business.
    – Qube
    May 31, 2012 at 12:12
  • 1
    If the text read "1.75", in my experience people almost always read that "one point seven five" or sometimes "one point seventy-five". If the text reads "1 75/100", then people read it "one and seventy-five hundredths".
    – Jay
    Aug 28, 2012 at 4:34
  • 2
    @nohat IMHO "one hundred and one and five tenths" makes perfect sense and "one hundred one and five tenths" feels like is missing an "and". I don't get the rule about not having more than one "and". Could be my British ear but I do feel there is a real difference between typical British and American usage when it comes to writing out numbers.
    – ukayer
    Aug 29, 2012 at 2:08
15

I speak Canadian English and over here I'd say both usages are common and nobody ever says "and" when they mean "decimal" or "point".

As far as nohat's answer, where the "rule" is that you can only use and for fractional parts, I've never been taught that rule as far as I can recall.

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    This time Mr.S&N are on the same page. I've started to call 'American English' 'Canadian English', BTW, since they're almost identical. I've never heard anyone, from anywhere, use 'and' when they mean decimal or point. And I attend many international scientific conferences where speakers from everywhere talk about numbers. There is no such rule, nohat. Sorry. Maybe that's why no one has observed Americans following that rule? Just a wild guess.
    – bev
    Dec 14, 2010 at 11:05
  • 3
    @bev if you read my answer, you would see that I never claimed that anyone uses 'and' when they mean 'decimal' or 'point', but rather that in formal American English, you only use 'and' to separate the whole number part from the fractional part of a number—where the fractional part of the number is read as a fraction. The Wikipedia article on numerals supports these claims en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_numerals#Fractions_and_decimals
    – nohat
    Aug 15, 2011 at 21:46
14

Instead of "I've never seen..." answers, how about some actual references? Like this:

LINK

When saying or writing out numbers, the British insert an and before the tens and units, as in one hundred and sixty-two or two thousand and three. In the United States it is considered correct to drop the and, as in one hundred sixty-two or two thousand three.

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  • 2
    The quoted text is actually the best answer so far. I hear it both ways here in the USA. Neither is "considered incorrect".
    – T.E.D.
    Aug 15, 2011 at 18:28
  • 1
    @T.E.D.: I think you misinterpret "correct" there as meaning "the right thing to do". It actually means "valid", with no implication that any alternative is "not valid". Aug 15, 2011 at 18:55
  • 2
    @FumbleFingers I think if that had been the author's intent, they might have said "acceptable" rather than "correct". The latter suggests a preference, although it doesn't mean it's exclusive.
    – Barmar
    Feb 25, 2014 at 18:19
  • @Barmar: Even in the context of the actual text cited here, one can infer "correct" means "exclusively so", from the fact that US usage is being contrasted with UK usage (where dropping "and" is not correct, and is at best only tolerated as an "Americanism"). If you look at the rest of the section in the Wikipedia article, you'll see it's absolutely littered with terms like usually, often, normally, more likely, frequently, etc. Since it doesn't "hedge" the cited assertion as "...in the US it is also considered correct...", I stand by my comment. Feb 25, 2014 at 18:32
  • @FumbleFingers You seem to be contradicting yourself. Your first comment says it should not be interpreted as exclusive, now you say it should be.
    – Barmar
    Feb 25, 2014 at 18:36
13

For what it's worth, as an American, I've never heard the usage "one hundred and fifty" to mean 100.50 (or similar). I would say "a hundred fifty," or "one hundred and fifty" to mean 150, but not "one hundred fifty".

Even in dealing with currency I never hear and used to indicate a decimal unless the decimal is followed by the word cents.

IE: for $20.75:

'Twenty dollars and seventy-five cents' might be used, but 'Twenty seventy-five' would be more common.

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  • Working with money seems to change the way the numbers are spoken. Aug 15, 2011 at 18:56
  • Interesting that for 150 and 100.50 actual usage is the opposite of the purported "rule" would require. (This may vary by region; I would probably even take "a hundred fifty" as 100.50 rather than 150.) May 29, 2012 at 3:35
  • I would expect the cashier at a supermarket to use the shorter form
    – mplungjan
    Feb 8, 2013 at 8:15
  • Hundreds with additional units following are I think pronounced somewhat differently from those without. If someone was counting out change and said "one hundre-duh an-duh fifty", I might be prone to interpret it as $100.50", but not if I heard "one hundreh-ndt fifty". I suspect the "and" is included not for its literal meaning, but rather because it's easier to say a glottal stop followed by an alveolar stop (an "dn" followed by a "d" or "t") than two consecutive alveolar stops.
    – supercat
    May 1, 2014 at 16:11
  • If you're counting, you don't count "One thousand and one, one thousand and two, ...". You count "One thousand one, one thousand two, ..." Putting in ands sounds weird, and imagine how much longer it'd take to count with all those ands.
    – mbomb007
    Feb 24, 2016 at 21:46
6

As an American, I've never heard of the 'and' indicating a decimal. Except when writing a check (cheque). In that case, when writing out the words, we use

One hundred fifty and no/100 for 150.00 
One hundred and 50/100 for 100.50

But, as you notice, the decimal parts are not spelled out. As for spoken usage, both sound correct which probably means that both are in common usage.

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  • 4
    It's a different topic, but I was bemused when I found that Americans wrote /100 for the cents, (or had it printed on their checks). This has never been customary in the UK.
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 1, 2010 at 15:55
  • Bemused? Why bemused? I'm not normally bemused when I learn something new.
    – bev
    Dec 14, 2010 at 11:06
  • 1
    That's because our checks print the second line as "____________ dollars", so you have to write the cents part as a fraction to make it grammatically correct.
    – Dan
    Feb 5, 2011 at 16:42
  • On a British cheque, if it was a whole number of pounds, you would tend to write "One hundred and fifty pounds only"
    – neil
    Jun 14, 2011 at 18:38
  • @Neil, a lot of Americans also write "only" to indicate no change, or say "even", like: "twenty dollars even"
    – Andrew
    Jun 21, 2011 at 14:58
2

Yesterday my five year old son answered a question with, "Three hundred and forty-four," which prompted my thirteen year old daughter to correct him, saying that he shouldn't say the "and" because that indicates that the number after "and" is a decimal or fraction. I told her that was crazy and I'd never heard that before. However, my wife agreed that my daughter was right. My wife received all of her education in Utah, as has my daughter so far. I went to kindergarten through third grade in Utah, but I went to fourth grade through the end of high school in California. I don't know if that has anything to do with our differing perspectives here, but I cannot ever remember having heard someone say "some number AND some other number" to indicate whole numbers followed by decimals. On the other hand, I can't remember ever having been taught that such a thing was correct or incorrect either. In terms of both my education and my life experience (mostly in Utah, California, Nevada, and Arizona), I have always understood that the word that denotes a decimal is the word "point." I have, however, heard the "and" separator for fractions and even for decimals, but only if the number is followed by "tenths" or "hundredths," etc.

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  • I've always agreed with the "and" rule, but I've noticed it as often honored in the breach as in the observation. Aug 27, 2013 at 22:46
  • 1
    Three hundred and forty-four hundredths.
    – tchrist
    Aug 27, 2013 at 22:47
  • @tchrist, but if someone says "three hundred and forty-four", is your natural inclination to assume that they must have forgotten to add "hundredths" or "eightieths" or similar? Or is your natural inclination to assume that they've inserted an "and" which is superfluous to your ears?
    – tobyink
    Feb 25, 2014 at 20:30
  • 1
    @tchrist: Suddenly, I see where this "rule" might have come from. If you say three hundred and fifty-four hundredths, is it 354/100, or 354 1/100? Somebody came up with the idea that you should leave the "and" out of "three hundred and fifty-four" to avoid this ambiguity, and somebody else completely misunderstood this. I don't believe anybody says "three hundred and fifty-four" to mean "three hundred point fifty-four". Aug 22, 2014 at 1:15
  • Oops. I meant 354/100 or 300 54/100 above. Aug 22, 2014 at 2:38
2

Within mathematics, two numerics associated with an "and" indicates summation; the common usage is "two and two is four" (2+2=4). (Note that mathematical sentences can include multiple "and"s; eg two and two and two is six (2+2+2=6).) So "one-hundred and fifty" would be 100 + 50 where "one-hundred fifty" would be 150. That being said, "one-hundred and fifty thousand" is commonly interpreted as 150,000, not 100 + 50,000. As such, it was my understanding that the "and" usage be limited as confusion can and does occur.

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  • Curiously, Danny Kaye agrees differently than you do: Two and two are four. / Four and four are eight. / Eight and eight are sixteen. / Sixteen and sixteen are thirty-two. / Inchworm, inchworm, / Measuring the marigold, / You and your arithmatic, / You’ll probably go far. / Inchworm, inchworm, / Measuring the marigold, / Seems to me you’d stop and see, / How beautiful they are.
    – tchrist
    Aug 21, 2014 at 17:39
  • @tchrist: All but one of the sites I found with the lyrics to the “Inchworm” (or “Inch Worm”) song, including this one (at a .gov web site!), confirm my memory that the lyric is “measuring the marigolds” (plural). The fact that angelfire misspells “arithmetic” should make us question its accuracy.
    – Scott
    Aug 21, 2014 at 21:05
  • @Scott Then listen to the song.
    – tchrist
    Aug 21, 2014 at 21:07
1

I'm a Canadian, and its common to drop the "hundred" as well, when pronouncing 150. Most of the time I would say "one fifty", which is also how I would pronounce 1.50. Just to make things even more confusing.

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  • I think that's also common in British English.
    – Blorgbeard
    Aug 28, 2012 at 5:36
  • Blorgbeard. Not very.
    – Tristan
    Aug 28, 2012 at 11:42
  • How would you pronounce the time "ten to two" ? Jul 30, 2013 at 19:40
1

I question the premise of your question. Americans often read 150 as "one hundred and fifty". When I was in elementary school I was taught that the "and" was superfluous and should be omitted, but lots of Americans say it.

As others have said, I've never heard anyone use "and" to indicate a decimal point by itself. An American typically reads a dollar amount, like "$100.50", as "one hundred dollars and fifty cents". For a non-monetary amount, like "100.50", Americans read that as "one hundred point five zero" or "one hundred point fifty".

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  • Isn't 150 often read as "one hundred fifty" instead of "one hundred and fifty"?
    – Pacerier
    Jan 21, 2014 at 6:00
  • Sometimes. That's what I mean by my second sentence. Sometimes it's read "one hundred and fifty", other times "one hundred fifty". I was taught that the "correct" way is without the "and", but if that's the rule, it is widely ignored.
    – Jay
    Jan 21, 2014 at 17:18
1

Another scenario where the use of and in a series of numbers is unclear to me is in explaining temperatures in Fahrenheit, like for example one hundred and three degrees.

Though I generally avoid correcting people, when patients relay their temperature as such, I clarify their intended meaning. For young or old, the intent can be 100.3 or 103.0, interestingly. This is unlikely an issue in other fields of work and in British or Canadian English.

Otherwise, I also was taught in grade school/primary school in Northern California that the use of and in a series of numbers indicated a decimal or preceded a fraction. For 150, both with and without and sound clear to me. In common speech, I would rarely be confused.

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    If you have clinical experience, far be it from me to gainsay you. But to my ear, I could never imagine thinking that “one hundred and three degrees” meant 100.3° instead of 103°.
    – tchrist
    Aug 28, 2012 at 13:24
  • I've definitely been told 100.3 when asking for clarification, but I agree with you my first impression when hearing this is 103. To avoid ambiguity when stating the numbers, I would say "one-oh-three" for 103.0 and " one hundred point three" for 100.3. I probably do overestimate how often this happens.
    – Mike
    Aug 31, 2012 at 13:13
1

I’ve been here 14 years (from the UK) and dropping the and still sounds weird to my ear. Try and imagine a commentator at a darts match shouting “one hundred eighty” instead of “one hundred and eighty”. Just doesn’t have the same impact. Try saying “one three quarters” (could be heard as ¾) vs. “one and three quarters” (clearly means 1 ¾).

I should add that I’ve never heard or considered using and as a decimal point.

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    "One three quarters" is clearly an incorrect way to say 1 ¾. Read nohat's answer: the reason American schoolchildren are taught to omit the "and" from numbers like "one hundred twenty-three" is precisely because the "and" is reserved for numbers like "one and three quarters".
    – Marthaª
    Aug 28, 2012 at 13:21
  • No one omits the and with fractions, do they? It just doesn’t sound right, as you rightly observe.
    – tchrist
    Aug 28, 2012 at 13:24
  • @Martha: So would you go the whole way with this system, and call say 1 000 000 001 'one billion one'? Have the book title changed to "One Thousand One Nights"? Aug 28, 2012 at 13:29
  • Sir Richard Francis Burton's translation was entitled "The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night".
    – GEdgar
    Aug 28, 2012 at 14:58
  • @EdwinAshworth: really, people need to read nohat's answer. Also, note how I said "... schoolchildren are taught to omit the 'and'...".
    – Marthaª
    Aug 28, 2012 at 15:34
1

I am from the UK, and I would just to clarify the reasoning why I would always use "One hundred and fifty".
The "and" splits the 2 numbers to avoid confusion that the "one hundred" may affect the "fifty" as in meaning "one hundred fifties" or in other words 100 * 50.
(This may be similar to the way I and other people from the UK pronounce "can't" as carnt because it is easier to distinguish)

0

You are wrong. Americans say one hundred and fifty as well. When we would say 100.50, we say "one hundred point five".

Never make claims about which you are not sure.

1
  • You’re right that this isn’t so cut-and-dried as other posters would have it. Sometimes North Americans says one hundred and fifty-six for 156; other times they say a hundred fifty-six.
    – tchrist
    Feb 27, 2015 at 18:12

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