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How to write numbers in English?

Posted by Manjusha Filed in English Writing

The figure zero is usually called nought in British English and zero in American English. When we say numbers one figure at a time, 0 is often called oh (like the letter O).

My account number is two four oh one four three seven. (= 2401437)

In measurements of temperature zero is called zero in both British and American English. Zero is followed by a plural noun.

Zero degrees Celsius is thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit.

Zero scores in team games like football or rugby are called nil. In tennis and similar games, the word love is used to mean zero.

And the score at half time is: Brazil two, Italy nil.
Forty-love; Roger to serve.

Telephone numbers

We say each figure separately. When the same figure comes twice, British people usually say double.

Two four oh, double one three seven (=2401137)
Two four zero, one one three seven (US)

Roman numbers

Roman numbers are becoming less common in modern English. They are, however, still used in a few cases for example the names of kings and queens, page numbers in the introductions to some books, and occasionally the names of centuries.

It was built in the time of Henry V.
For details, see page vii.

The Roman numbers normally used are as follows:

   1    I    i
   2    II    ii
   3    III    iii
   4    IV    iv
   5    V    v
   6    VI    vi
   7    VII    vii
   8    VIII    viii
   9    IX    ix
  10    X    x
  11    XI    xi
  12    XII    xii
  13    XIII    xiii
  14    XIV    xiv
  19    XIX    xix
  20    XX    xx
  21    XX1    xxi
  30    XXX    xxx
  40    XL    xl
  50    L    l
  60    LX    lx
  90    XC    xc
 100    C    c
 500    D
1000    M

Numbers: differences between American and British usage

British money

Three are 100 pence in a pound. Sums of money are named as follows:

1 p    one penny or a penny
5 p    five pence

American money

There are 100 cents in a dollar. Sums of money are named very much as in British English. Some coins have special names. One-cent coins are called pennies; five-cent coins are called nickels; ten-cent coins are dimes; a twenty-five cent coin is a quarter.


The ground floor of a British house is the first floor of an American house; the British first floor is the American second floor.


In American English, a billion is a thousand million. This is now generally true in British English, but a British billion used to be a million million.

Sections in this article

Cardinal and ordinal numbers
Fractions and decimals
Numbers: differences between American and British usage



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