For example: 3 monkeys jump on the bed.

  • 2
    "1492 is considered to be a significant year in the history of the West, Europe, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Spain, and the New World" is not a problem. Some style guides prefer not to write single-digit numerals as numbers rather than words, so might prefer something like "36 monkeys played with the typewriter. Three of them hit it with a rock."
    – Henry
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 9:42
  • Duplicate but answers aren’t great: english.stackexchange.com/q/464639/191178
    – Laurel
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 11:31
  • 1
    Still a duplicate. Sentence starting with a number I've edited the original to promote it in the listings. Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 15:21

1 Answer 1


Here are rules for writing numbers in text: The Rules for Writing Numbers in English.

Beginning a sentence with Arabic numerals is never advisable (bar exceptions), whatever the size.

Other references
Rules for Writing Numbers and Numerals
Using Numbers, Writing Lists
Numbers and Dates
Numbers in academic writing

  • -1 for the overly-rigid claim in the second paragraph. It’s matter of style and the like, not correctness.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 10:48
  • @Lawrence Well, that is not, in my opinion, such an error on my part as to deserve so severe a penalty, so much so as the reference uses that very term, but I thank you at least for giving me a motive, which only few users bother to do.
    – LPH
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 10:57
  • 1
    You’re welcome; it can be annoying to the poster when downvotes aren’t explained. Leaving aside the bugbear of using “correct” to mean “idiomatic / grammatical / etc”, the larger issue is that starting sentences with numerals isn’t always frowned upon. For example, I agree with Henry’s comment that sentences can start with numbers that represent years (“1492 is considered ...”). Even the article you linked to softens their position by referencing consistency and style guides as overriding their ‘rules’.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 11:08
  • ‘Rules’ of English such as those in your linked article are often just generalised observations about the language. It might be more helpful to consider them rules of thumb - good heuristics, but not absolute. Often, they can be broken without breaking the language ... when deeper aspects of communication are satisfied.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 11:18
  • Lots of style guides don't even like you to begin a sentence with a year (MLA says "you should never begin a sentence with a numeral"), recommending spelling out or putting "The year 1492" or other rewriting. Personally I think that's nonsense, but sadly nobody's paid me to write a styleguide. grammar-monster.com/lessons/numbers_starting_sentences.htm wiki.harvard.edu/confluence/display/HSG/Numbers una.edu/writingcenter/docs/Writing-Resources/…
    – Stuart F
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 13:03

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