Expressing Numbers in English

Restaurant employee tallying receipts
Geri Lavrov/ Photographer's Choice RF/ Getty Images

When expressing large numbers (more than one hundred) read in groups of hundreds. The order is as follows: billion, million, thousand, hundred. Notice that hundred, thousand, etc. is NOT followed by an ‘s’.

Two hundred NOT two hundreds

NOTE: British English takes 'and' between 'hundred and ...' American English omits 'and'. In the examples below, this is represented by (AND).

Hundreds

350 – three hundred (AND) fifty 
425 – four hundred (AND) twenty-five
873 - eight hundred (AND) seventy-three
112 - one hundred (AND) twelve

Thousands

15,560 – fifteen thousand five hundred (AND) sixty 
786,450 – seven hundred (AND) six thousand four hundred (AND) fifty
342,713 - three hundred (AND) forty-two thousand seven hundred (AND) thirteen
569,045 - five hundred (AND) sixty-nine thousand forty-five 

Millions

2,450,000 – two million four hundred (AND) fifty thousand
234,700,000 – two hundred (AND) thirty-four million seven hundred thousand

Speaking About Numbers

Numbers are read in a specific manner in English. Read numbers in groups of three in the following manner in English:

million, thousand, hundred

2,350,400 => two million three hundred (AND) fifty thousand four hundred

NOTE - Remember: Use ‘and’ only between hundreds in British English. American English leaves the ‘and’ out.

Decimals

Read decimals as the given number point XYZ

2.36 - two point three six
14.82 - fourteen point eight two
9.7841 -nine point seven eight four one
3.14159    - three point one four one five nine (that's Pi!)

Percentages

Read percentages as the number followed by ‘percent’

37% - thirty-seven percent
12% - twelve percent
87% - eighty-seven percent
3% - three percent

Fractions

Read the top number as a cardinal number, followed by the ordinal number + ‘s’

3/8 - three-eighths
5/16 - five-sixteenths
7/8 - seven-eighths
1/32 - one thirty-second

NOTE: ¼ =>one-quarter, 2/3 => two-thirds, ½ one-half

Important Numerical Expressions

Here are the descriptive names of a number of important numerical expressions:

Speed - 100 mph (miles per hour)

Read speed as numbers: One hundred miles per hour

Weight - 80 kg (kilograms) OR 42 lbs (pounds)

Read weight as numbers: Eighty kilograms OR forty-two pounds

Telephone number - 0171 895 7056 

Read telephone numbers in individual numbers: zero one seven one eight nine five seven zero five six

Date - 12/04/65 read dates month, day, year in the US or day, month, year in the UK

Temperature - 28° C (celsius) OR 72° F (Fahrenheit)

Read temperature as "degrees +number": twenty-eight degrees celsius OR seventy-two degrees fahrenheit

Height - 1 m 89 cm  / 6'2''

Read height first meters then centimeters, or feet then inches: one meter eight nine centimeters or 6'' 2' six feet two inches

Price - $60 

Read the currency first then the number: Sixty dollars

Fraction - 8/13 

Read a fraction as the number over a decimal: eight-thirteenths 

Score - 2-1

Read scores as "number + to + number": Two to one 

Ordinal Numbers

Ordinal numbers are used when speaking about the place in something such as in competitions. Most numbers end in 'th', except first, second, and third of every ten numbers.

1st - first
2nd - second
3rd - third
17th - seventeenth
8th - eighth
21 - twenty-first
46 - forty-sixth 

Would you like to practice your understanding of numbers? Here are some listening exercises: