Learn English – How to correctly say large numbers


I saw a post on The daily What which links to a video where a person counts from 1 to 100,000.

Is he saying a large portion of the numbers wrong?

Back in high school my algebra teacher was extremely picky. If we were going to say the number 135, we would say one hundred thirty-five. If a person said one hundred and thirty-five my teacher would interpret that to mean 100.35. Was my algebra teacher wrong, or did Jon just waste over 80 hours counting to 100,000 incorrectly.

I tried searching the web, but searching for ‘numbers and’ doesn’t work very well. Can you point me to a reference or style guide that describes how to properly say large numbers?

Best Answer

"One hundred and thirty-five" is perfectly correct, although the "and" tends to be removed in American English. It makes sense mathematically, since "and" is synonymous with "plus" — two apples and three apples makes five apples. One hundred, and thirty-five, makes 135.

The "and" is particularly useful when articulating a series of numbers. "One hundred one, one hundred two" could easily be misheard as "one hundred, one, one hundred, two" whereas using "one hundred and one, one hundred and two" removes that ambiguity.

Ultimately though it depends on location and culture. In the UK the "and" is always used; in the US there are a mixture of usages.

Looking at this ngram, it seems that skipping the "and" has only gained popularity over the last hundred years or so but using the "and" is still far more prevalent: Relative popularity of "one hundred one" versus "one hundred and one"

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