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Numerals: dates, numbers etc. (grammar)

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1. Difficulties in spelling

four BUT forty, fortieth
five BUT fifteen, fifty, fifth
eight BUT eighth
nine BUT ninth
twelve BUT twelfth
thirty BUT thirtieth

There is a hyphen between tens and digits, e.g. twenty-two, one hundred and eighty-seven

2. General remarks about cardinal numbers

a) 1,000,000,000 (Polish ‘miliard’) is a thousand million in British English, and a billion in American English. The American way of reading the number 1,000,000,000 is getting more and more common.

b) A comma is used instead of spaces or dots to separate the thousands. Spaces are possible in British English only.

c) The words ‘hundred’, ‘thousand’, ‘million’, ‘dozen’ are not pluralized when they are given with a specific number or with such expressions as ‘a few’, ‘several’, ‘many’. They are pluralized if there is no number of them given (e.g. thousands of people).

d) In British English we say ‘and’ after the word ‘hundred’, e.g. 113 - one hundred and thirteen; 320,000 - three hundred and twenty thousand

e) ‘A’ before ‘hundred’, ‘thousand’, ‘million’ etc. is more popular than ‘one’ if these numbers stand alone, e.g. 100 - a hundred
Otherwise ’one” is more popular, e.g. 1,140 - one thousand one hundred and forty

f) In bigger numbers, we put ‘and’ before the tens when the hundreds are missing, e.g. we have the year two thousand and five.

g) Round numbers between 1,100 and 1,900 are often read ‘fifteen hundred’, ‘eighteen hundred’ etc.

h) 12 is a dozen; 20 is a score; 60 is threescore; 144 is a gross

i) anything above 1 is already plural in English, e.g. 1.5 litres of water

j) centuries are given in Arabic numbers, e.g. we live in 21st century.


3. Fractions:

½ - a half
2 ½ - two and a half
¼ - a quarter
¾ - three quarters (three fourth)
⅛ - one eighth (an eighth)
⅞ - seven eighths



4. Decimals:

NB: in English a ‘point’, not a comma, is used in decimal fractions!
We read the digits after the point separately.

0.5 - oh (OR: nought) point five
2.5 - two point five
0.75 - oh point seven five
15.735 - fifteen point seven three five


5. Ways of saying the number 0:
- generally, the figure ‘0’ is usually called ‘nought’ in BrE, and ‘zero’ in AmE.
- in a series of numbers (such as a credit card number or telephone number) you can pronounce 0 like the letter o;
- in mathematics, science, and technical contexts say nought or zero (sometimes also ‘cipher’);
- in temperatures say zero to refer to freezing point (0 Celsius or -32 Fahrenheit);
- in sports for scores of 0 say nil (BrE), zero or nothing (AmE) (in tennis say love - originally from French l’oeuf - egg).

7. Ordinal numbers

a) The article ‘the’ normally precedes ordinal numbers, e.g. the seventh day of the week.
b) to make the pronunciation easier, we put /ı / before the ‘th’ ending, e.g. 30th - /'θ tı θ/
c) We use the ordinal numbers, preceded by ‘the’, in titles of kings in spoken English, e.g. Elizabeth the Second

8. Saying the numbers of years:

1066 - ten sixty-six
1605 - sixteen oh five
1776 - seventeen seventy-six
1900 - nineteen hundred
2000 - (the year) two thousand
2001 - two thousand and one OR twenty oh one

We don’t say ‘year’ after the number, we may say ‘the year 2005’ but before the number.

9. Dates

a) We have two ways of saying the dates, e.g. 10 March
- the tenth of March (3 elements added in spoken English!) - British English
- March (the) tenth (2 elements added in spoken English!) - American English

b)
BC - Before Christ (Polish ‘p.n.e.’) - after the date;
AD - Anno Domini, or in the year of the Lord (Polish ‘n.e.’) - before or after the date;

c) If we write dates in numbers only, we often use slashes, not dots, e.g. 3/11/89. NB: we do not use ‘0’ before single digits.

d) in American English the month comes before the day, e.g. 5/3/94
5th March in Britain
3rd May in the USA

10. Weights
a) ‘hundredweight’ (cetnar GB=50.80 kg; US=45.36 kg) or ‘stone’ (6.53 kg) has no plural form

11. Telling the time

a) There are 3 ways of telling the time:
- the informal (e.g. at home)
6.10 - ten past six (in the morning)
7.03 - three minutes past seven (in the morning); AmE also: three minutes after seven
8.55 - five to nine (in the morning)
9.49 - eleven minutes to ten (in the morning)
10.30 - half past ten (in the morning) - sometimes even ‘half ten’
11.15 - a quarter past eleven (in the morning)
12.00 - noon OR midday
18.45 - a quarter to seven (in the afternoon); AmE also: a quarter of seven
20.00 - eight (o’clock) (in the afternoon)
24.00 - midnight

- the quite formal (e.g. on the radio) - the 12-hour clock
7.03 - seven oh three
12.00 - twelve a.m.
20.00 - eight p.m. OR twenty (hundred) hours
24.00 - twelve p.m.

- the formal (e.g. for timetables) - the 24-hour clock
6.10 - six ten
10.30 - ten thirty
18.45 - eighteen forty-five


b) The word ‘minutes’ is used ONLY for the number of minutes which is not divisible by 5. With uneven numbers we mustn’t omit it however.
c) We never use ‘o’clock’ together with ‘a.m.’ or ‘p.m.’.

12. Money
a) we put the symbols before the number, e.g. $200, PLN 500.
b) $46.80 is read forty-six dollars eighty cents; £25.16 - twenty-five pounds sixteen pence
c) a quid = £1 (‘funciak’); a dime - ‘dziesięciocentówka’; a nickel - ‘pięciocentówka’; a quarter - ćwierć dolara / funta; kilo - often means ‘a thousand’ (‘tysiak’); in informal contexts ‘pound’ is not pluralized.

13. Telephone / room etc numbers

a) They are read separately, e.g. Room 106 - room number one oh six.
b) ’Oh’ is used in British English, whereas ‘zero’ is used in American English.
c) shortenings in British English: 22 - double two; 999 - triple nine etc. (American English: 22 - two two)

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