# Re: Reading out decimal numbers

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Posted by MathBard on October 18, 2002 at 00:00:51:

In Reply to: Re: Reading out decimal numbers posted by T.Gracken on October 17, 2002 at 17:28:37:

: : : : Is there a correct way to read aloud decimal numbers? I was taught to say thirty-four point five seven. It grates on me to hear newsreaders saying thirty-four point fifty-seven. This morning the barometric pressure was thirty point thirty.
: : : : Am I out of date, and is it now OK to read the numbers after the decimal point as a whole number?

: : : Don't think there's an answer to that: I was taught same way as you were.

: : I was taught that way, too.
: : But I quickly learned that NO ONE ever says, "The square root of 3 is
: : about one and seven hundred thirty-two thousandths."
: : I'm sure it's for clarity that we "spell out" the number in digits.

: : an "and" is to be used at the decimal point only.

: : 352.43 is to be read "Three hundred fifty-two and forty-three hundredths",
: : not "Three hundred and fifty-two..."

: : Why? Once again, clarity.
: : There is actually nothing wrong with "three hundred and fifty-two" ~
: : it still means "300 + 52".
: : But reading 352,000 as "three hundred and fifty-two thousand" could
: : be heard as "300 + 52,000".
: : I agree that 99% of the listeners would understand the phrase to mean
: : "352 thousands", but the rule was created for that "one percent".
: : Me? Don't tell anyone, but I'm sure I sprinkle "ands" liberally
: : throughout my readings of numbers.

: : : What REALLY grates me is:
: : : at this point in time (why not just say NOW!)
: : : no less than n (why not just say n?)
: : : needless to say ... but they say it anyway !

: : Mr. B, how about those who use nouns as verbs ~ as in "The new law
: : impacted their budget"?
: : Personally, I distance myself from those people.

: There is a (precise) way of presenting a decimal number both orally and written.

: And although many different "presentations" are accepted (and rarely considered incorrect), there is one formally accepted way of writing (or speaking) decimal numbers.

: It is, as stated earlier, the number left of the decimal (using digit and place value) without the word 'and', followed by the word 'and' (indicating the separation of whole number and fraction), then the number left of the decimal with the appropriate place value.

: It is really quite silly, but so is most "proper" stuff ...in my opinion.

: so, 135.23 is formally written (or read) "one hundred thirty five and twenty three hundreths". But anyone with a clue will accept "one hundred thirty five point twenty three". [or even "...point two three"]

: there really is a reason that 'and' is only used once... it indicates the separation of whole number and fraction.

: Of course, the word 'and' also creates many other problems in algebra as it is a logical operator, yet sometimes it is 'supposed' to "imply" addition. For example: mixed numbers do not make sense in typical algebra (as the word 'and'is a set operator), yet in logic it makes complete sense.

: ...o.k. so this is a pet peeve of mine.

: people will say "three and a half". we assume that is 3.5 (decimal format) or 3 1/2 (mixed number format)

: but, symbolically speaking, if no operator symbol is represented between numbers, then multiplication is implied.

: ...be careful ...

: so if we have (1/2)x [but don't use parenthesis; as when writing with pencil], then we also have x 1/2 [commutative property of multiplication].
NOPE. The communative prop. applies to moving around TERMS. In the above above example you didn't really (although it SEEMS the same) commute the terms. there IS the procedure about stating the coeeficient BEFORE the variable for the very reason of avoiding the confusion to which you allude.
: does this mean that one half "x" is the same as "x and a half"?

: hardly!

: O.K. but back to the original "point". Although it is not 'proper' to use 'point' in place of the word 'and', I have yet to meet a professor of mathematics or a mathematician that will argue (or argue for long) that using the word 'point' is incorrect or unnacceptable. However, the word 'and' is not to be used (even though most of us do; including me)unless it is indicating the separation of whole number with fraction.

: jeesh, didn't think this would be so long...

WOw a bunch of Mathematicians philosphizing about semantics and usage! Isnt that some sort of violation of cerebral hemispheric conduct?

You have stumbled into a debate that has been ongoing among gramaticians and linguists for a long time.

It is the prescriptivists vs. the descriptivists.
A prescriptivist says the RULES of language should define speech. A descriptivists says that usage(speech) should define the rules (these are the guys that added "ain't" and "DOH" to the dictionary).
We have the RULE about how to say decimals, as Mr Gracken has described, but we all do it in a way that is easier and more accepted. This is how language evolves. This is why we no longer sound like the language of the King James Bible.
Here we have the same concept but applied to Mathematics.

I am an English teacher who got stuck teaching Algebra (because i can).

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