One thing on my list of New Year’s resolutions: saying numbers correctly. Well, not really, but it might be if I were an even bigger nerd than I already am.
The fact is that many people either don’t know how to say numbers correctly or at least don’t say them properly. The numbers I’m referring to here are those pesky ones with decimals and commas – you know, the really big ones, and the really small ones, too.
So where do you say “and,” and where don’t you?
The rule of thumb is that you only need an “and” where there appears a decimal. All other positions should be devoid of “and.” For instance, if you were to speak aloud the number 1,234, it would go something like this: “one thousand three hundred thirty-four.” To say “one thousand three hundred and thirty-four would technically be incorrect, although I doubt you’ll be shot over it (otherwise you already would have been). On the other hand, if you were to speak aloud the number 123.4, it would go something like this: “one hundred twenty-three and four-tenths.” I don’t suspect that most of the three of you who are reading this would say “one hundred twenty-three-four-tenths,” but if you do happen to say it like that, stop.
(I should mention here that this applies at least to American English, while in other places the grammar may be different. How does it work over there, Lenina? Bronwyn?)
As far as writing numbers is concerned, well, I’ve already covered some of it. But, as it happens, there is more. There is always more. When writing out numbers using words (as opposed to…numbers), those that require two words but are less than one hundred should be hyphenated. For example, forty-five should always be hyphenated; four hundred never should be. This goes for decimals too, as they all will use two words.