Saying Numbers Out Loud
Date: 03/06/2002 at 12:25:08 From: Sheila Page Subject: Oral numbers I would like to know the correct way to say numbers. When I say numbers and when I listen to other people say numbers, I hear them use the word "and" before the last number: for example, one hundred and one; two thousand, three hundred and seven. I have recently been told, however, that the use of "and" is incorrect. I am having a hard time reconciling what seems to me to be common usage and the dictate that "and" is wrong. Can you give me some guidance, please? Thanks, Sheila Page
Date: 03/06/2002 at 13:59:39 From: Doctor Ian Subject: Re: oral numbers Hi Sheila, I was always taught that 'and' is used only to indicate the location of the decimal point: three hundred three hundred twenty three hundred twenty-nine three hundred twenty-nine and three tenths three hundred twenty-nine and thirty-six hundredths and so on. However, the Gregg Reference Manual (5th Edition) gives this example: seven hundred and twenty-five ('and' may be omitted) So if you like the way it sounds, you can always appeal to that citation in case someone makes a fuss. _The Elements of Style_ (Strunk and White) says that the 'and' should be retained in the phrase 'one hundred and one', which suggests that it should not normally be included. In English, there are lots of ways in which 'common' usage differs from 'correct' usage. People commonly mix up 'which' and 'that'; 'compose' and 'comprise'; 'farther' and 'further'; 'quote' and 'quotation'; and so on. Experts disagree on the importance of the distinctions. And, of course, what is 'correct' changes with time. If you stick an extra 'and' into a number, will anyone be unable to determine what you mean? No. Might some people who would consider this to be an error make a mental note that perhaps you're less 'educated' than you ought to be? Yes. Might that affect the way they subsequently interpret what you say and do? Yes. Might that, over the course of your lifetime, end up reducing both your income and the scope of opportunities that are offered to you? Maybe. There was a time when I would have considered this something worth arguing about. At this point, I no longer think of it in terms of 'correct' or 'incorrect'. Rather, I think of it as one of many 'secret handshakes' for a particular club, and act accordingly. :^D Does this help? - Doctor Ian, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
Date: 03/06/2002 at 14:54:24 From: Doctor Peterson Subject: Re: Oral numbers Hi, Sheila. I'd like to add to Dr. Ian's comments the fact that this usage differs from country to country. I understand that proper British usage includes the "and," while "proper" (though not necessarily common) American usage excludes it. You may find this discussion interesting: A numerical controversy - Mini Follow-up http://www.improb.com/news/2001/aug/math101.html - Doctor Peterson, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
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