How to pronounce dates and numbers in English

Dates
In English, we can say dates either with the day before the month, or the month before the day:
The first of January” / “January the first“.

Remember to use ordinal numbers for dates in English.
(The first, the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth, the twenty-second, the thirty-first etc.)

Years
For years up until 2000, separate the four numbers into two pairs of two:
1965 = “nineteen sixty-five
1871 = “eighteen seventy-one
1999 = “nineteen ninety-nine

For the decade 2001 – 2010, you say “two thousand and —-” when speaking British English:
2001 = “two thousand and one
2009 = “two thousand and nine

However, from 2010 onwards you have a choice.
For example, 2012 can be either “two thousand and twelve” or “twenty twelve“.

Large numbers
Divide the number into units of hundreds and thousands:
400,000 = “four hundred thousand” (no s plural)

If the number includes a smaller number, use “and” in British English:
450,000 = “four hundred and fifty thousand
400,360 = “four hundred thousand and three hundred and sixty

Fractions, ratios and percentages
½ = “one half
1/3 = “one third
¼ = “one quarter
1/5 = “one fifth
1/ 6 = “one sixth
3/5 = “three fifths

1.5% = “one point five percent
0.3% = “nought / zero point three percent

2:1 = “two to one

Saying 0
Depending on the context, we can pronounce zero in different ways:
2-0 (football) = “Two nil
30 – 0 (tennis) = “Thirty love
604 7721 (phone number) = “six oh four…”
0.4 (a number) = “nought point four” or “zero point four
0C (temperature) = “zero degrees

Talking about calculations in English
+ (plus)
= (equals / makes)
2 + 1 = 3 (“two plus one equals / makes three“)
– (minus / take away)
5 – 3 = 2 (“five minus three equals two” / “five take away three equals two“)
x (multiplied by / times)
2 x 3 = 6 (“two multiplied by three equals six” / “two times three equals six“)
/ (divided by)
6 / 3 = 2 (“six divided by three equals two“)

40 thoughts on “How to pronounce dates and numbers in English

  1. Chez

    I was taught to say zero when speaking a phone number or zip code because “oh” is a letter.

  2. Clare Post author

    Both are correct, although I think that it’s more common to say “zero” in American English. In British English we also say “zero”, but often say “oh”.

  3. Alexander

    Very useful, I always have had a problem with pronunciation of dates and numbers. Going to learn it by heart :) Greetings from Russia and thanks!

  4. Vishwakarma Ritesh

    very very very much thanks
    Sir , can 1905 be pronounced as “nineteen o five”

  5. Glyn Anderson

    Oh or zero in a number?
    You can use either.
    Glenn Miller used both in his song Pennsylvania 65000. “Pennsylvania, six, five-thousand, Pennsylvania, six, five-oh-oh-oh”

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