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1500 = Fifteen Hundred or One Thousand Five Hundred?

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QUESTION:
Mitch in Italy wants to know how to express quantities (amounts; numbers) by using “hundreds” and what is the largest quantity that can be expressed in this way.

ANSWER:
When you see the number 2,300, you may say to yourself, “That’s two thousand three hundred.”  You would be right, but Americans have another way to say this number:  “twenty-three hundred.”

For numbers 1,100 to 9,900, you can express them as hundreds, rather than thousands.  Here are some examples:

- 4,300 = forty-three hundred
- $1,500 = fifteen hundred dollars
- the year 1900 = the year nineteen hundred

We use this convention (way of doing things) with “round” numbers:  4,300 and not 4,321.  For “4,321″ we usually express this in thousands:  “four thousand three hundred (and) twenty-one.”

For years, we do things a little differently:  We group the first two and the last two digits (numbers 0-9) together, like this:
- 1986 = nineteen eighty-six
- 1086 = ten eighty-six
- 2086 = twenty eighty-six
For years with fewer than four digits, we group just the last two digits:
- 873= eight seventy-three
However, for our current year, we express it this way:
- 2009 = two thousand (and) nine OR twenty oh-nine

Why do Americans express thousands as hundreds?  “Fifteen hundred” (1,500) is easier and faster to say than “one thousand five hundred.”  While using this convention is very common and often sounds a little less formal in daily conversation, it is fine to express these numbers–with the exception of years–as hundreds or thousands.  Both are correct and both are commonly used.

~ Lucy

20 Responses to “1500 = Fifteen Hundred or One Thousand Five Hundred?”

  1. emiliano Says:

    What a big mess, thank you so much Lucy, but I do think for us is quite difficult to say it correctly when we have to speak fast or to understand what a person is talking about mentioning numbers.
    Why are you always so in a hurry? as to abreviate all words and expressions?
    Take life in an more easy way as mediterraneas use to do…….

  2. elcomandant Says:

    Yes, I agree with Lucy. Is easier use this convention, even to a no native.
    Thanks Lucy.

  3. Elisângelo Says:

    wow!!!

    that’s a good topic for me, preto, speak out about it… well, in fact I do agree with lucy that here in USA people all the time usually say much more otfen the numbers as in hundreds than in thousands when they’re talking about money, which makes us non-native speakers of english pretty much confused when we are listen to some else talking cause is very hard to make sense of this numbers while you’re trying to figure out what that really means in numbers by counting zeros. Nevertheless I can not let to say that this informal way of express numbers fits just of speaking… yeah! because once I got one of my checks refused just because I thought that it will be normal write down numbers in hundreds instead. I mean, I signed a check with the amount of $ 1.500 dollars and I wrote down by extensive: fifteen hundreds dollars and guess what?

    Exactly, I got my check denied at the bank. Well, at least the check that I signed was passed to one of my relatives… so I didn`t get too much troble with but a huge bla bla bla….rsrsrsr!

    Well, if one of you someday pass by here and and in some case, have to pass any check…. remember! … number counting in hundreds is due only in conversation.

    so, to all of you whom participate of eslblog,

    my sincerely best regards.
    preto.

  4. Daniele from Italy Says:

    Hello evryone!
    Recently I was working with some British guys and, I noticed that they said the numbers in that way, so I wanted to know about that.
    Thank you Lucy.

  5. Peter Says:

    Hi Lucy,

    Thanks for the clear cut elaboration on the matter. As you well know, Here in Canada people follow the same pattern . My guess is the same rules apply in UK.Perhaps ,it is a global thing.

    Thanks Lucy ,and thanks for the Podcast that the more I dig in it the more I enjoy it.For me , Coming across the Podcast was a life-altering event.Before, I didn’t even dare to think about writing a business letter ,but now I get to it like, I am dropping a line for a friend.

    You know what ,The beauty of the Podcast is that it some how takes all the mixed up info you have in your head about English language and compile it in a professional manner. Before joining you guys I was a big mess of info ,but now I can claim that I make my points among the crowd in a more directed fashion.

    Thanks Jeff and associates for the precious gift

  6. Elisângelo Says:

    hum! nice posted peter…. this was happened to me too. After I found out the eslpod all of those messed up put into my head by my teachers in Brasil, started to make sense and with the opportunity now to leave right here and feel the english for so close, I have been developing my english day after day supported by esl Team.

    For sure, if I was more dedicated in take all those learning guides and read it, I certaintly would be much much better on speaking now….

    … but I am still in time to get rid off my lazy passe and catch up on this matter.

    good luck to you petter!
    preto.

  7. Fei Says:

    Thanks, but I still have a question, how to pronounce more digitals? for example, IEC-61133? is it “six – eleven – thirty-three”?
    and your blog reminds me another question, not about numbers, but about characters, for example, “pccc”, I heard it’s pronouced like “P – C – Queue”, correct?

  8. Eberhard Says:

    Thanks a lot for this information. I agree: This way to use the numbers is much easier than we do in Germany. It is much more complicated to say two thousand three hundred than twenty-three hundred. We German are so stupid to do it always for 150 %.

    Best regards

    Eberhard from Hannover

  9. Julio Says:

    Sincerely, I have always had troubles on this topic. From now on I am going to have fewer doubts in this sense. Thank you, Lucy, for explaining it to us.
    Beste regards,
    Julio, Spain.

  10. Manda Says:

    Good topic, I even notice that the Americans use a simple digits to answer ” day of your birty” as register information, for example, May, 1st, 1983
    they say” five, one, Eighty-three”, the people can get it what you said. Amazing!

  11. ANGEL SANCHEZ Says:

    I found EslPopcast int the website, I started to study, specially hear the topic and I have progress in improve my English at 60%
    Thank for important labour both of your are doing in benefic many in the world people that need learn English

    My god protect your alwys and good luck

    Angel

  12. emiliano Says:

    More or less I am like Eberhard as I always speak (even in English) mentioning numbers the way he said, so possibly not only he or his friens are what he said they are, that is not true, may be we were bad teached or I am also stupid.

    Thank you Lucy again, your explanation is very clear, and sorry about what I said first. The ruls are not the same everywhere and yours are easyer and faster that ours.

  13. hassan Says:

    hi,i am very thankfull,first I should say.of course we should consider that,this kind of speaking is good but we are in the early levels & so we must learn basics.
    at the end I remark my pleasure from Dr.jeff & lucy.
    I’m from Iran,I love Americans.

  14. Frank Says:

    @Eberhard
    You’re wrong. Also in germany we learn both ways.

    Frank
    Stuttgart / Germany

  15. Eberhard Says:

    @ANGEL SANCHEZ: “EslPopcast” is funny! Do you learn English by singing? :-)

  16. Flicker Says:

    I wonder how do they (of course Jeff and Lucy ) know what I always wonder over.

    Because of question emails all over the world ???

    EslPodcast rocks! I hope “If rainy days and snows ,EslPosdcast could go on.”

    Flicker/South Korea

  17. Mauricio Says:

    I understand but the question is other, I need really learning

  18. Eberhard Says:

    @Frank: Yes you are right, of course, but only if we use numbers of a date, f.e. if you use the year nineteen fiftynine.

  19. Muharrem Says:

    hi everybody. thanks lucy for your question. but I didnt hear this way in advance. but it is be probably of course. but we usually use this second way among us. thanks everybody. bye…

  20. el_aguila Says:

    I love eslpod, is the the best of the best!!! thank you..