In this lesson we shall take a look at how numbers are used in the English language. Most of the time using numbers is easy, but you should be aware of these other ways of expressing numbers in the English language!
Sets of numbers: We can use words to express certain numbers. Here are the most common ones.
Cockney Rhyming Slang: Cockneys are English people from the East End of London. They have a very strong regional accent! In some English movies you might hear people with this accent using strange words when talking about numbers or amounts of money. Some examples:
Speaking numbers: There are some special ways to say numbers when we speak.
When we talk about years in English we don’t always read the full number! Here are some examples of how to say the years.
We can shorten 20number (2003, 2010 etc.) to just oh number (03, 010 etc.) if we know we are referencing a certain time. For example:
Pat: When did you last go to London to see Tommy?
Peter: Not long ago, I think it was September oh ten*.
(*This would be written as ’10 or 2010)
People are still getting used to saying twenty eleven because it’s a bit of a mouthful! However by next year English speakers will probably start using twenty twelve more than two thousand and twelve because it’s shorter and easier to say.
Speaking with big numbers: Users of British English and American English say large numbers in slightly different ways.
British English: When we read a big number, we start with the largest part and move down to the smallest. The number 3,423,961 would be read as three million, four hundred and twenty three thousand, nine hundred and sixty one. We use the word and after the word hundred only if it is one hundred and something.
American English: American English is nearly the same, but they don’t use the word and at all. The number 3,423,961 would be spoken as three million, four hundred twenty three thousand, nine hundred sixty one by Americans.
One last thing to remember is that one billion means one thousand million.
Finished? Try and remember what you have studied and give the quiz a go - click here for the quiz!
Have you been confused by any other numbers you have heard?
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