Use of Numerals

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What is it?

Numerals are a big part of all of your daily lives. Using them in English is more confusing than using them in math. We use numerals to describe the quantity of something, the weight or height of something and dates. You use numerals in all different styles of writing, and it is important to know how to use them correctly.

INCORRECT: My brother has fish which are some inches long, and the fish are in a small tank.

CORRECT: My brother has 11 fish, which are all 2 inches long, and the fish are in a 10-gallon tank.

When do you use figures?

When using numerals in writing, it is difficult to know when to write the number out or to use a symbol. Always use figures when writing numbers over ten. Also, use numerals when talking about physical dimensions like height, weight and distance. When talking about the age of someone, you should always use figures. When using fractions and decimals, it may prove a little difficult to understand if the numbers are written out. By using figures, you can alleviate all confusions in decimals and fractions. Writers often get confused by whether to use figures when speaking of percentages. When discussing percentages, use figures to talk about the percentage followed by the word ‘percent.’

INCORRECT:

  • My car has stopped running ten times.
  • My best friend is five feet tall.
  • She just turned fourteen.
  • I was only able to complete one half of my assignment.
  • I received a ninety percent on my test.

CORRECT:

  • My car has stopped running 10 times.
  • My best friend is 5 feet tall.
  • She just turned 14.
  • I was only able to complete 1/2 of my assignment.
  • I received a 90 percent on my test.
  • When do you stay away from figures?

Never use figures for numbers less than ten. If you begin a sentence with a number, never use a figure. Always spell out numbers at the beginning of sentences. Lastly, when using large numbers over a million because it would prove to be too difficult and take up too much space to write these numbers out.

INCORRECT:

  • I have 8 cats.
  • 2 years ago, I graduated from school.
  • There are 8,000,000 people in New York City.

CORRECT:

  • I have eight cats.
  • Two years ago, I graduated from school.
  • There are 8 million people in New York City.