Large Numbers in English

Although English is full of irregularities and difficult rules, large numbers are easier to use in English than in languages like Korean or Chinese.  As long as you can count in hundreds, much larger numbers are pretty simple.

First, let’s review hundreds:

Hundreds in English

Once you get higher than hundreds, we use commas to mark each new scale. The first comma denotes thousands:

  • 137                 One hundred thirty-seven
  • 1,137               One thousand one hundred thirty-seven
  • 41,137             Forty-one thousand one hundred thirty-seven
  • 941,137           Nine hundred forty-one thousand one hundred thirty seven

Between each comma, the numbers are counted in hundreds. After thousands, we find millions.

  • 5,941,137          Five million nine hundred forty-one thousand one hundred thirty-seven
  • 605,941,137     Six hundred five million nine hundred forty-one thousand one hundred thirty-seven

The next comma gives us billions, then after that, trillions. Numbers do obviously go much higher than that, but unless you’re doing an astrophysics degree, you’re unlikely to see them.

Thumb
If you can’t remember the order of the scales, just remember the word THuMB. Right-to-left, the commas are THousand, Million, Billion.

Click here for Wikipedia’s list of large numbers in English.

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