Numbers, Charts and Graphs

Students of Business English often have trouble with counting, figures, duration of time and other issues related to numbers.  This page is for numbers, go HERE for the Charts and Graphs page.

One of the most frequent problems is pronouncing numbers in an understandable way.  Even native speakers sometimes double check if a customer said sixteen or sixty.  Big difference if you get the order wrong!

Following is the easiest way to get the pronunciation correct.

Use the “respelling” for pronunciation to help you get it right.
STRESS the syllable that is capitalized.

13 thir-TEEN THIR-tee 30
14 four-TEEN FOUR-tee 40
15 fif-TEEN FIF-tee 50
16 six-TEEN SIX-tee 60
17 seven-TEEN SEV-en-tee 70
18 eight-TEEN EIGHT-tee 80
19 nine-TEEN NINE-tee 90

Other problems for Business English students include the how number zero is used, decimal points, larger numbers, phone numbers and more.


British English and American English vary a bit as you will only rarely hear an American use NIL or NOUGHT for Zero.  In British English it common to use OH after a decimal point and NOUGHT before it.  In American English ZERO point OH.  Numbers after a decimal are all stated separately.  

Telephone numbers are usually stated individually, though sometimes in pairs or triplets. 

So, let’s try this:

When Number Example Variant
Say OH following decimals 3.02 three point oh two
Say ZERO or NOUGHT before decimals 0.02 zero point oh two nought point oh two – BrEng
Say OH telephone numbers 325-1605 three two five
– one six oh five
325-2045 three two five
– two oh four five
three two five
– two oh forty-five
325-6055 three two five
– six oh five five
three two five
– six oh double five**
bus, train or flight numbers SQ305 SQ three oh five
Say ZERO temperature 0° zero degrees

NOTE: Say POINT for decimal points.    **This variant confuses some non-native speakers and listeners – avoid it, but know it is there.

Practice the following statements using the rules above:
1. Room Service? Please bring my dinner up to room 3205.
2. Flight MI2055 is boarding at gate B22.
3. It’s freezing outside it’s 20
° below 0!
4. Do you have my number?  It’s 089-875-3003.
5. The exact size of the specimen is 0.06cm.


How to state amounts of money is always a difficult point for students of Business English, but the rules are relatively simple.  Numbers before decimals are stated in full – after the decimal they are also stated in full EXCEPT for .01 through .09.  Please see the examples below:

Amount is spoken as or **
$66.50 sixty-six fifty sixty-six dollars and fifty cents
£3.05 three oh five three pounds and five pence
€8.88 eight eighty-eight eight euros and eighty-eight cents
 ¥2005 two thousand and five two thousand and five yen

**The “and” is sometimes dropped and/or not always used by all native speakers.  Students usually understand better and are better understood if they use the “and”.


Number is spoken as
the year 2005 two-thousand and five
year 1995 nineteen ninety-five
number 1995 one**-thousand nine-hundred and ninety-five
year 2012 twenty twelve
year 2055 twenty fifty-five
number 1022 one**-thousand and twenty-two
year 1022 ten twenty-two
number 1,325,455 one**-million, three-hundred twenty-five thousand, four-hundred fifty-five

** Sometimes native speakers will substitute an “a” for “one” – thus, for 1022, saying “a thousand and twenty-two”.


Fractions are usually spoken as ordinal numbers:

number is spoken as variant
1/5 one fifth a fifth
1/7 one seventh a seventh
1/3 one third a third
3/4 three fourths
7/8 seven eighths

Note some exceptions and variants however:

number is spoken as variant
½ a half one half
¾ three quarters three fourths
two and a half
four and three quarters four and three fourths
¼ one quarter one fourth

Numbers, Charts and Graphs – Business English