I have this situation in the English course book :

  • 5.6 million Swiss Francs - read as five point six million Swiss Francs
  • £16.60 - read as sixteen pounds and sixty

The question of my students: Can we read sixteen point sixty ?

  • No, the Swiss have four official languages, and none of them refers to their national currency as "pounds" or use "£" as the sign for their currency. In English in the context of Swiss monetary transactions, *sixteen sixty" or "sixteen francs sixty" would be readily understood to mean 16 CHF and sixty centimes. I don't know how the Swiss would phrase it in any of their languages.
    – deadrat
    Nov 28, 2016 at 7:14
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    @deadrat I suspect you have misread the question. Edited to clarify (hopefully). Nov 28, 2016 at 7:46
  • @michael.hor257k Thanks. Your edit seems apt. I misread things often enough, but I'm not taking the blame for this one. If 207957 concurs in the edit, I'll delete my comment.
    – deadrat
    Nov 28, 2016 at 8:00
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    Currencies are a red herring here. Decimal numbers are read as X point Y when they're simple decimals, like five point six million. There is no currency there. It doesn't matter that we're talking about 5.6m Swiss Francs, because what's expressed as a decimals are the millions, not the Francs. In £16.60, on the other hand, the decimalised unit is the currency, and we don't read decimalised currencies as decimals. Dec 28, 2016 at 11:05

1 Answer 1


In (British) English we might also say "sixteen sixty", as the context makes it clear we're taking about pounds. This would almost always be pounds and pence, though if someone told you a they'd paid seventeen-fifty for a car or holiday you could assume they meant £1750. The same approach is common in French (in France) with the euro, but less so in Germany, or at least the bits I've been to in the last few years. It's too long since I've been to Switzerland for me to remember.

But I don't recall hearing "point" or its local equivalent used anywhere in Europe as the separator between the base currency and its hundredths. It's only used with magnitude prefixes line million and billion (also with "k" for a thousand but never IME with "thousand", "grand" etc., in fact "sixteen hundred and sixty" would be common for £1660.

In English "point" is always followed by reading out the digits, unlike French. So "sixteen point sixty" would always be wrong. It's not just related to currency: in English we could say "sixteen metres sixty", "sixteen point six metres" or "sixteen point six zero metres". The first relies on knowing that the subdivision is centimetres not millimetres, and the difference between the other two is precision.

  • In the US one would use "sixteen sixty" for dollars and cents as well.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 28, 2016 at 13:14
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    Of course if you say “sixteen sixty” you have only context to tell you whether you mean £16.60 or £1,660. Dec 28, 2016 at 11:07
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    @JanusBahsJacquet, that's technically true but it's not all that common as a way to express hundreds of pounds, and you tend to know whether you're paying for a used car or a round of drinks.
    – Chris H
    Dec 28, 2016 at 12:19
  • @ChrisH I take it your answer is referring to British English - or do you know that it also applies to AmE? I note that HotLicks suggests that some US usage is different. May I suggest you clarify your answer appropriately?
    – TrevorD
    Dec 28, 2016 at 13:01
  • @TrevorD I didn't consider anything else, mainly because of the pounds in the question. I'll add something
    – Chris H
    Dec 28, 2016 at 13:45

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