Top 8 Mistakes We All Make When Writing Numbers

The French language is a bitch and you know it. But among the absurdities of the French language, those concerning the writing of numbers are particularly salty. I warn you it takes a little concentration but after this top you will be considered a superior being.

1. Write 80 anyhow without “s”

First of all to understand how this number is written, you must already understand why we don’t say octante like everyone else. And bad news: we are not completely sure about this origin. The most probable hypothesis would be a Celtic origin. Why ? Because despite the generalization of the decimal system (certainly because it was easy to count on our ten fingers), the Celts who were little jokers used a system based on 20 instead (we are talking about a vicesimal system). This would have influenced the Gauls until the Middle Ages. We then said “twenty ten” for “thirty”, or “two twenty” for “forty”, or even “two twenty ten” for “fifty” and naturally “eighty”.

At the end of the Middle Ages, these two ways of naming numbers ended up coexisting, giving rise to this absurd persistence of the “eighty” and “ninety-ten” which greatly disturbs apprentices of the French language.

So that’s why we write “eighty” with an “s”: it’s as if we were saying “four times twenty”. That said, the rule changes in other circumstances as we will see right now…

2. BE CAREFUL HOWEVER, it does not take “s” when it is followed by another number like “eighty-eight”

Also works for “eighty thousand” or just “ninety”.

3. HOWEVER STOP EVERYTHING, it still takes an “s” when you say “eighty million”

And why will you tell me? Simply because thousands, millions and billions are nouns and not numeral adjectives like “thousand”.

Do you want to shoot yourself already at this stage? It’s not over.

4. Do not use a hyphen when writing a number made up of several words

Hyphen or not hyphen? Well it’s simple, since there are several words, no need to squirm and you’ll get into all the sauces. Ninety, fifty-two thousand, sixty-eight, thirty-seven thousand, six hundred and twenty-two.

EXCEPT. Because there is one except, with the names such as thousand, million and billion (if you read correctly, it is because they are names and not numbers).

5. … even for numbers composed of an “and”

Breathe, relax. Until 1990 the above rule did not apply to numbers less than a hundred including an “and”. So we had to write “twenty-one”, “thirty-one” etc. But hey, you have to admit that this affair was super ballsy.

Fortunately, in 1990 several spelling changes including things like the removal of the circumflex accent on verbs conjugated in the past simple, but also the return of the hyphen for any number of several words even “six-million-seven-hundred-thousand-three-hundred-seventy-one”.

6. Put an “s” in “cent” when it’s not needed

Again it’s a mess I warn you. In principle, “one hundred” is invariable. However, an “s” must be added to it if it is preceded by a number that multiplies it. So we write “two hundred”. Good news that also applies to the number twenty.

HOWEVER, it loses its “s” as soon as a numeral adjective is added to it. We will therefore write “two hundred and two”, “three hundred and twelve”. A rule which obviously does not apply to “thousand”, “million”, or “billion” which are, we recall, nouns. We will therefore write “two hundred thousand” but “two hundred thousand”. It’s starting to come back?

7. Put “s” in the numbers

In the crazy history of the French language, know that numeral adjectives are invariable and NEVER take “s” (even with a knife to their throat, even if you threaten to kill all their children).

For example, we will always write “the four boloss” or “the four string theories” and never “fours”. The rule applies to “two”, “three”, “five”, “six”, “seven”, “eight”, “nine”, “thirty”, “fifty”, “thousand” etc. In short, I’m not going to list all the numeral adjectives because that would take us a lot of time. Basically, only “twenty” and “hundred” can take an “s” in the circumstances mentioned above.

8. There are times when you have to write the numbers in numbers, and there are times when you have to write the numbers in words

If you don’t want to look like a loser, pay attention to these few rules of writing etiquette:

– Dates, address numbers, weights and measures are written in figures.

– We write the centuries, the kings in Roman numerals.

– The rest of the time we write the numbers and numbers in letters

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