This question was prompted by Do digits after the decimal point have a specific name?. How does one correctly refer in spoken speech the part of a number after the decimal point. Would 123.45 be spoken as "one hundred twenty three point four five" or one hundred twenty three point forty five"?

I've always spoken it as the former (point four five), but more often nowadays I'm hearing it as "point forty five". Not sure if there's a correct way, or if people nowadays are just getting more sloppy in pronunciation and grammar and are finding it easier to just modify the language to their benefit rather than try and maintain long-established language standards.

  • 1
    This was discussed on ELU here: english.stackexchange.com/questions/62397/… . The accepted answer was that the numbers after the decimal point should be pronounced separately (four, five), although there wasn't unanimity on this point. But in BrE at least, four, five is the only correct reading.
    – rjpond
    Sep 12, 2017 at 18:42
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    I'd be surprised if there was a "long-established language standard" that applied here, and to learn that point forty-five was an example of people "getting more sloppy in pronunciation and grammar."
    – J.R.
    Sep 12, 2017 at 18:43
  • As an aside, since @Milwrdfan only gave two options and neither of them included the word and - in BrE and is mandatory in "one hundred and twenty-three" (and in its more common variant "a hundred and twenty-three").
    – rjpond
    Sep 12, 2017 at 19:11
  • @rjpond, very good point that there can be common variations of the part before the decimal point also. I grew up (and still live) in the upper midwest of the USA, and this language difference may be as much of a regional dialect as anything. This may just be another example of usage within the English language where there are many different common usage differences across the language, many of which are considered normal/abnormal or acceptable/unacceptable depending on where one is using the language.
    – Milwrdfan
    Sep 12, 2017 at 19:50
  • If you're really pedantic, it's "one hundred, forty-three, and forty-five hundredths".
    – The Photon
    Sep 13, 2017 at 2:30

1 Answer 1


Children (and some adults) will sometimes read 123.45 as "a hundred and twenty-three point forty-five". Your English teacher may not mind if you say this, but your Maths teacher will not be happy, as it shows a misunderstanding of the maths. I would always correct students who read the numbers after the decimal as "forty-five". It is much rarer to hear "12.345" as "twelve point three hundred and forty-five".

A learner should be aware that saying "point forty-five" is quite common, but is not a model to be copied. A learner should speak the digits "point four five" as this will give maximum clarity.

When speaking of money £123.45 is read as "one hundred and twenty-three pounds, forty-five (pence)" That's a little different as it is a number of pence.

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