Numbers and numerals in English: the most comprehensive guide
Setting an appointment at a certain time, giving the right address, phone number or telling a meeting how much your profits have increased – you’ll do it all by using numbers. Today we will talk about using numbers and numerals in all the nuances in English.
Let’s start with the basics: Numbers from 0 to 12. Remember these numbers well and the numbers rest will be easier for you to work with later on:
- 1 — one;
- 2 — two;
- 3 — three;
- 4 — four;
- 5 — five;
- 6 — six;
- 7 — seven;
- 8 — eight;
- 9 — nine;
- 10 — ten;
- 11 — eleven;
- 12 — twelve.
Separately in this list, let’s look at the number zero and its different names in English:
- zero — to read the number itself, when reading decimals, percentages and telephone numbers, and in some fixed expressions;
- o (as letter) – to read years, addresses, time and temperature;
- nil — to report sporting results.
There is a 0% chance (there is rain a zero percent chance). — Вероятность дождя 0 %.
I live at 4604 Smith Street (I live at forty-six o four Smith Street). — Я живу по адресу 4604 Smith Street.
The score was 4-0 (the score was four nil). — Счет был 4: 0.
The next step is to form numerals from 13 to 19. To do this, take the digits 3 to 9 and add the suffix –teen:
- 13 — thirteen;
- 14 — fourteen;
- 15 — fifteen;
- 16 — sixteen;
- 17 — seventeen;
- 18 — eighteen;
- 19 — nineteen.
Note the exceptions when the root changes slightly: thirteen / тринадцать и fifteen / пятнадцать. And in number 18, there is one letter missing –t.
Next, we move on to the formation of tens. Here too, it’s simple: now add the suffix to the digits –ty:
- 20 — twenty;
- 30 — thirty;
- 40 — forty;
- 50 — fifty;
- 60 — sixty;
- 70 — seventy;
- 80 — eighty;
- 90 — ninety.
Again, there are a few exceptions: the changes you already know (30 and 50), the -t (80) doubling lack and the changed root in numbers 20 and 40.
Hundreds, thousands, millions and other big numbers
The following words need to be learnt and one rule needs to be remembered: when you say “hundreds”, “thousands” and other big numbers, you need to use the indefinite article or the word one:
- 100 — a/one hundred;
- 1,000 — a/one thousand;
- 1,000,000 — a/one million;
- 1,000,000,000 — a/one billion.
Note: When writing a number, every three digits from the end are separated by a comma, not a space, as in Russian: 4 567 (Russian version) – 4,567 (English version).
How to write and read two-digit numbers correctly
At this point it gets a bit more complicated because the two-digit and other large numbers English spelling is different from the Russian spelling. Two-digit numbers are written with a hyphen: a tens-defix-digit. For example: 29 is twenty-nine, 37 is thirty-seven.
To write three-digit numbers you can use this scheme: three-digit numbers + the union and + a ten-digit hyphen. For example, 129 is one hundred and twenty-nine and 461 is four hundred and sixty-one. Please note: When you say a specific number, hundreds, thousands, millions and other big numbers are used without the plural ending.
All big numbers, starting with tens, are called in order, as in Russian, with the conjunction and before tens addition:
- 3,458 — three thousand four hundred and fifty-eight;
- 15,438 — fifteen thousand four hundred and thirty-eight;
- 247,357 — two hundred forty-seven thousand three hundred fifty-seven;
- 200,300,100 — two hundred million three hundred thousand one hundred.
This is the basic information you need to know about quantitative numerals and it will help you further with numbers.
Quantitative Numerals in English
Numerals of this type answer the question “What?”, “Which?” If you are well versed with cardinal numbers, then it will be easy to form ordinal numbers. You need to put the definite article the in front of the number, and add the -th suffix to the number itself.
As usual, there are exceptions, but few: the first, the second / второй, the third / третий. When forming ordinal numerals from tens, -y is changed to -ie: fortieth / сороковой, twentieth / двадцатый.
All other ordinal numerals are formed according to the rules:
- пятый — the fifth;
- семнадцатый — the seventeenth;
- тридцать четвертый — the thirty-fourth;
- сто первый — the one hundred and first.
When writing as a number rather than as a capital letter, the article and suffix are also added: the 25th , the 1st.
Mathematics a little bit
No, we are not going to make you count or solve equations, but rather tell you how to correctly write and read fractions, percentages and numbers among other types.
To pronounce and write decimal fractions correctly, you need to remember the following rules:
- a full stop a comma (as in Russian) instead and the word point / точка pronounced;
- before the dot, say the numbers according to the rules; after the dot, say each number;
- if the numbers after the dot are repeated, name them once and add recurring (повторяющийся, периодический).
12.131313131313 … — twelve point one three recurring.
If there is a zero in the dot front, you don’t have to read it, you start with a dot. 0.95 — point nine five.
To name and write simple fractional numbers, you will need numerals and ordinals:
- the upper number is quantitative, the lower number is ordinal;
- the upper number is quantitative, the lower number is ordinal;
- use quarter fourth instead and half second instead.
Examples: 1/3 – one-third, 3/4 – three quarters, 5/6 – five sixths, 3/2 – three halves.
When you need to say a number consisting of a whole and a fraction consisting, use the union and: 5 ½ – five and a half, 4 3/8 – four and three eighths.
It’s simple: say a number, using the rules you already know, and add the word percent (процент). It is written in the same way in all languages – %. The word percent is always in the singular: 25% is twenty-five percent, 36.25% is thirty-six point two five percent, 100% is one hundred percent.
Positive air temperatures are simply spoken: It’s 30 degrees Celsius / Сейчас +30 0С. It is often unnecessary to mention Celsius or Fahrenheit because it is usually clear from the context, Fahrenheit is only used in the USA and a few other countries, the world rest uses Celsius.
The temperature below zero can be referred to in several ways:
- minus 40 degrees — минус сорок;
- negative 40 degrees — минус сорок;
- forty (degrees) below (zero) — сорок градусов ниже нуля.
You don’t even have to say degrees if it’s obvious that it’s about temperature.
This category includes everything from speed, distance, weight, volume and an object other characteristics.
In general, it is pronounced simply – you read the number, then the measure unit, which is most often written in abbreviated form:
- 60 m — sixty metres / 60 метров;
- 25 km/h — twenty-five kilometres per hour / 25 километров в час;
- 11 ft — eleven feet / 11 футов;
- 3 tbsp — three tablespoons / 3 столовые ложки.
However, some measures can be pronounced differently, such as square metres and cubic metres:
● 12 m 2 — 12 metres squared or 12 square metres;
- 3 m 3 — 3 metres cubed or 3 cubic metres.
First, you read the amount, then you name the currency. If the number is not a whole number, the whole part and the currency are called first, then the fractional part and the currency. The decimal fraction in this case (only in this case) is read as a whole number and not called by separate digits:
- 52€ — fifty-two euros;
- 140₤ — one hundred and forty pounds;
- $43.25 — forty-three dollars and twenty-five cents;
- €12.66 — twelve sixty-six.
Note, that in colloquial terms, you may not call a currency at all.
In this section, we will talk briefly about how to use numbers correctly when you are naming dates and talking about times.
When naming the time, use numerals and follow simple rules.
- In informal speech, do not use the 24-hour format. If you want, you can specify am (до полудня) or pm (после полудня). Но обычно из контекста и так все понятно.
- When the time is even, usually add o’clock: 5 o’clock. If necessary, you can add in the morning (утра) or in the evening (вечера).
- Naming the hours and minutes can be done in two main ways: 10:20 — ten twenty / twenty (minutes) past ten, 13:50 — one fifty / ten (minutes) to two.
- For half an hour and 15 minutes use the words half and quarter respectively: 10:30 — half past ten, 14:45 — a quarter to three.
As for reading the dates correctly, there are some important rules to help you too.
- If the year is written as a 4-digit number, divide in half and read as two 2-digit numbers: 1944 — nineteen forty-four.
- If it is a century, use the word hundred, for millennia use thousand: 2014 – twenty fourteen or two thousand fourteen, 2008 – two thousand eight.
- Say -oh when there is a zero: 1908 — nineteen oh eight.
- When talking about decades, add a definite article at the beginning and a definite article at the end –(e)s: the 1850s — the eighteen fifties / the 50s — the fifties.
- Century is pronounced as an ordinal and can be written in either Arabic or Roman numerals: the 18th (XVIII) century — the eighteenth century (восемнадцатый век);
- Dates BC and AD are indicated with BC and AD and numerals: the year 689 BC — 689 год до нашей эры.
- Days and months may be written short or full. In the second case, you need an article and an ordinal suffix: April 6 / the 6th April (read as “the sixth of April“).
You will have to give your phone number or address often: when filling in a questionnaire, inviting a guest. With a phone number, it’s easy – just call it in single digits: +7-999-111-22-33 – plus seven nine nine nine one one two two three three three.
To give an address, you may need both numerals and ordinals. For example, you can say the flat number in full or in short: Apt. 303 – apartment three hundred three / three zero three. In street names where ordinal numerals are used, the number is usually written in short form: 6th (sixth) Avenue.
How to write English numbers: by numbers or in words
There are no strict rules, but there are general guidelines:
- it is better to write numbers in words at a sentence beginning, or better still, don’t start a sentence with numerals.
- the numbers up to 10 are also usually written in words, the others in numbers;
- numerals one or two words consisting are usually written in capital letters (dates are written in numbers), larger numerals are written in numbers.
For business documents, it is recommended to duplicate in words what is written in numbers.
At first glance, the numbers and numerals topic in English seems difficult because of its length. However, all the rules individually are quite logical and easy to understand. The main thing is to take your time and understand carefully. Then, we are sure; you will be able to handle numbers in English with ease.
We hope our article was useful for you. We invite you to take our English courses for adults at our school to start learning English or to improve your knowledge. Take an English level test on our website and sign up for a free trial lesson of English online. With EnglishPapa, you will definitely begin to speak English!