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I'm a native German speaker. My daughter is learning (British) English in school. She wrote her first English test and got it back from the teacher now.

I'm surprised the title of the test was

class test nr.1

Is nr. a common abbreviation for the word number in (British) English? I was expecting the abbreviation no.

The answers to these questions didn't help me:

It's not clear to me if

the availability of other abbreviations like "Num." or "Nr." or "#"

means it's available in English or if it'd just be a "natural" choice.

The Wikipedia numero sign page isn't giving a final answer either.

One Minute English shows the use in British English but without the colon.

This answer on englishforums.com claims it's not correct English.

Edit: Changed the wording from correct to common.

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    Normally we use 'nr' as an abbreviation of 'near', and 'no' to abbreviate 'number' (from Latin numero). Moreover, unlike AmE, abbreviations do not usually end with a stop if they comprise the first and last letter of the word. So in BrE we have and Mr and Dr, in AmE they use Mr. and Dr. But because the abbreviation 'no' is easily confused with the word 'no', we usually capitalise it with a stop, like No. 1 or with a superscipt like Nº 1. Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 17:38
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    "One Minute English" seems to be the personal website of some guy named Conor, so you don't seem to have any really reputable sources that indicate that "nr" is a valid abbreviation for "number". Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 17:39
  • I don't think that historically the # was much used in BrE, but is routinely seen and understood. Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 17:43
  • @StuartF: Why is this obvious? There are norms and standards for similar things. And I am quite sure there's a standard way/convention for doing this in scientific papers. Furthermore, maybe not everyone here is working or has studied in the field of linguistics and thus doesn't know there's no "official list"? Why are there questions like mine on other pages? Anyway: I'm going to change the wording from "correct" to "common".
    – DrP3pp3r
    Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 18:37
  • It is included in the Oxford Reference Dictionary of Abbreviations. Lower case, last entry in the list. But I'd say it's unusual and better avoided. And note the lack of a full stop. Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 19:52

2 Answers 2

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Nr is not a common abbreviation for number in British English. It will almost certainly be understood, but it does indicate a non-native speaker — for this particular abbreviation, a German speaker of English who has simply used the customary German abbreviation.

The only customary abbreviation for number in British English is no.

Collins has

No.

No. is a written abbreviation for number.

That year he was named the nation's No. 1 college football star.
Columbia Law Review, vol. no. 698 p1317.

and

nr

in British English:
abbreviation for near

There is no mention of nr for number.

Collins does mention #, but notes it as American and not British. Again, it's likely to be understood in British English, but as an Americanism.

number sign

in American English:
a symbol (#) for “number” or “numbered”

item #8 on the list

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  • Acronym(sic) Finder lists the number expansion of 'NR' (I'm not sure how they treat capitalisation in their data-gathering) ahead of even near. Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 18:04
  • Well, that's a matter of perceived reliability, I think. But instead of carping about each answer, why not write one?
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 18:19
  • My comment from 2 years ago: 'It is included in the Oxford Reference Dictionary of Abbreviations. Lower case, last entry in the list. But I'd say it's unusual and better avoided. And note the lack of a full stop.' So I'd say best not 'answered' on POB grounds. Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 18:40
  • Except it isn't opinion-based. There are documented sources. They may differ, in which case it's up to the OP to accept an answer, as always. The answers are not mere opinion.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 18:42
  • Answers using cherry-picked resources / a non-balanced survey are statistically unsound and subjective (they are dependent on who's cherry-picking or using an inadequate sample). Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 18:47
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It is not included in the Oxford English Dictionary list of abbreviations starting with 'n':

OED list of 'n' abbreviations

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    But it is included in the Oxford Reference Dictionary of Abbreviations. Lower case, last entry. The list you point to is just the list of abbreviations actually used in OED and is far from comprehensive. Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 19:50
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    Oh, ok. Very helpful, thank you!
    – C.S.
    Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 19:59

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