Numbers in English

The cardinal numbers (one, two, three, etc.) are adjectives referring to quantity, and the ordinal numbers (first, second, third, etc.) refer to distribution.

Number Cardinal Ordinal
1 one first
2 two second
3 three third
4 four fourth
5 five fifth
6 six sixth
7 seven seventh
8 eight eighth
9 nine ninth
10 ten tenth
11 eleven eleventh
12 twelve twelfth
13 thirteen thirteenth
14 fourteen fourteenth
15 fifteen fifteenth
16 sixteen sixteenth
17 seventeen seventeenth
18 eighteen eighteenth
19 nineteen nineteenth
20 twenty twentieth
21 twenty-one twenty-first
22 twenty-two twenty-second
23 twenty-three twenty-third
24 twenty-four twenty-fourth
25 twenty-five twenty-fifth
26 twenty-six twenty-sixth
27 twenty-seven twenty-seventh
28 twenty-eight twenty-eighth
29 twenty-nine twenty-ninth
30 thirty thirtieth
31 thirty-one thirty-first
40 forty fortieth
50 fifty fiftieth
60 sixty sixtieth
70 seventy seventieth
80 eighty eightieth
90 ninety ninetieth
100 one hundred hundredth
500 five hundred five hundredth
1,000 one thousand thousandth
1,500 one thousand five hundred, or fifteen hundred one thousand five hundredth
100,000 one hundred thousand hundred thousandth
1,000,000 one million millionth
Examples
  • There are twenty-five people in the room.
  • He was the fourteenth person to win the award.
  • Six hundred thousand people were left homeless after the earthquake.
  • I must have asked you twenty times to be quiet.
  • He went to Israel for the third time this year.

Reading decimals

Read decimals aloud in English by pronouncing the decimal point as "point", then read each digit individually. Money is not read this way.

Written Said
0.5 point five
0.25 point two five

0.73

point seven three

0.05

point zero five

0.6529

point six five two nine

2.95

two point nine five

Reading fractions

Read fractions using the cardinal number for the numerator and the ordinal number for the denominator, making the ordinal number plural if the numerator is larger than 1. This applies to all numbers except for the number 2, which is read "half" when it is the denominator, and "halves" if there is more than one.

Written Said
1/3 one third
3/4 three fourths
5/6 five sixths
1/2 one half
3/2 three halves

Pronouncing percentages

Percentages are easy to read aloud in English. Just say the number and then add the word "percent".

Written Pronounced
5% five percent
25% twenty-five percent
36.25% thirty-six point two five percent
100% one hundred percent
400% four hundred percent

Reading sums of money

To read a sum of money, first read the whole number, then add the currency name. If there is a decimal, follow with the decimal pronounced as a whole number, and if coinage has a name in the currency, add that word at the end. Note that normal decimals are not read in this way. These rules only apply to currency.

Written Spoken
25$ twenty-five dollars
52€ fifty-two euros
140₤ one hundred and forty pounds
$43.25 forty-three dollars and twenty-five cents (shortened to "forty-three twenty-five" in everyday speech)
€12.66 twelve euros sixty-six
₤10.50 ten pounds fifty

Pronouncing measurements

Just read out the number, followed by the unit of measurement, which will often be abbreviated in the written form.

Written Spoken
60m sixty meters
25km/h twenty-five kilometers per hour
11ft eleven feet
2L two liters
3tbsp three tablespoons
1tsp one teaspoon

Pronouncing Years

Reading years in English is relatively complicated. In general, when the year is a four digit number, read the first two digits as a whole number, then the second two digits as another whole number. There are a few exceptions to this rule. Years that are within the first 100 years of a new millenium can be read as whole numbers even though they have four digits, or they can be read as two two-digit numbers. Millennia are always read as whole numbers because they would be difficult to pronounce otherwise. New centuries are read as whole numbers of hundreds. We do not use the word "thousand", at least not for reading years within the past 1000 years.

Years that have just three digits can be read as a three digit number, or as a one digit number followed by a two-digit number. Years that are a two digit number are read as a whole number. You can precede any year by the words "the year" to make your meaning clear, and this is common for two and three digit years. Years before the year 0 are followed by BC, pronounced as two letters of the alphabet.

Interestingly, these rules apply to reading street addresses as well.

Written Spoken
2014 twenty fourteen or two thousand fourteen
2008 two thousand eight
2000 two thousand
1944 nineteen forty-four
1908 nineteen o eight
1900 nineteen hundred
1600 sixteen hundred
1256 twelve fifty-six
1006 ten o six
866 eight hundred sixty-six or eight sixty-six
25 twenty-five
3000 BC three thousand BC
3250 BC thirty two fifty BC

How to say 0

There are several ways to pronounce the number 0, used in different contexts. Unfortunately, usage varies between different English-speaking countries. These pronunciations apply to American English.

Pronunciation Usage
zero Used to read the number by itself, in reading decimals, percentages, and phone numbers, and in some fixed expressions.
o (the letter name) Used to read years, addresses, times and temperatures
nil Used to report sports scores
nought Not used in the USA
Examples
Written Said
3.04+2.02=5.06 Three point zero four plus two point zero two makes five point zero six.
There is a 0% chance of rain. There is a zero percent chance of rain.
The temperature is -20⁰C. The temperature is twenty degrees below zero.
You can reach me at 0171 390 1062. You can reach me at zero one seven one, three nine zero, one zero six two
I live at 4604 Smith Street. I live at forty-six o four Smith Street
He became king in 1409. He became king in fourteen o nine.
I waited until 4:05. I waited until four o five.
The score was 4-0. The score was four nil.