Whilst it's too common in my (and other languages?) to speak (and at times even to write) my currency with construction number + currency name; now, is it, by any means, possible to write/speak that way for the US Dollar?

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I think the government was paying him and other victims living on their own about 200 rupees ($3) a month at the time. My sister and I weren't awarded any compensation other than money paid to SOS Children's Villages for our support.

This surprised me a bit:

Market volumes gained 131.217 million shares to 351.338 million shares, capitalization swelled by 132.929 billion rupees (1.329 billion U.S. dollars) to 7.004 trillion rupees (70.044 billion U.S. dollars), whereas trading value improved by 6.591 billion rupees (65.914 million U.S. dollars) to 15.726 billion rupees (157.265 million U.S. dollars).

Also, we speak [amount] [USD] but write USD [amount]! Even surprising is, as Jacob says, in written U.S. English, the ¢ (cents) sign goes AFTER the amount!

Shouldn't it be -- USD [amount] over [amount] USD?

  • See: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Currency_symbol, under the section: Usage. Jun 16, 2014 at 12:56
  • Yes, but they didn't talk about the USD :( Thanks for the link anyway. Nevertheless, I already mentioned this in my question (in my language and probably others).
    – Maulik V
    Jun 16, 2014 at 13:05
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    I think it's implied ("Many currencies, especially in the English-speaking world and Latin America, place it before the amount ..."), and US$ is listed below on that page. USD is defined in ISO 4217. Jun 16, 2014 at 13:15
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    Infuriatingly, in written U.S. English, the ¢ (cents) sign goes AFTER the amount! $0.45 = 45¢ Jun 16, 2014 at 14:51
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    @JacobKrall That's interesting. Worth including in the question. Thanks :) +1
    – Maulik V
    Jun 17, 2014 at 4:35

2 Answers 2


When speaking, the rule is [Amount][Currency type].


I have 20 dollars. [CORRECT]

But when we write, we can do it both ways. The above example is one way to write it. The next example is the other way to write it.

I have $20. [CORRECT]

In speech, you will never say:

I have dollars 20. [wrong]

And writing, you will never put:

I have 20$. [wrong]

This is because in English, the sentence structure is [adjective] then [noun]. You will not see [noun] then [adjective] in any normal situation such as this. "20(amount)" is the adjective, "dollars(currency)" is the noun. But when we write it with a symbol, the symbol goes first (example: $amount -> $20).

In short, the symbol for the currency always goes in front of the amount (only used in writing), and the word for the currency always goes after the amount (in writing and speech).

  • You will not see [noun] then [adjective] in any normal situation -Not always! There's something called postpositive adjective. It's the structure wherein the adjective comes after noun! :)
    – Maulik V
    Jun 16, 2014 at 12:56
  • True, but it is used in such limited situations in English, almost exclusively in phrases borrowed from French or another language, that for learners it is best to remember the ADJ N construction.
    – michelle
    Jun 16, 2014 at 13:21
  • An actual backing for why to use $20 over 20$. Intriguing. I still prefer the notation 20$ but I see think I'll step back after reading this.
    – Seiyria
    Jun 16, 2014 at 17:14
  • RE: In short, the symbol for the currency always goes in front of the amount (only used in writing)... Except, as @Jacob said in his comment, when the amount is cents and not dollars (e.g., M&M's 75¢).
    – J.R.
    Jun 16, 2014 at 19:34
  • @MaulikV Hence the conditional statement "normal situation" ;). Also, Jacob and JR are correct, ¢ goes after. Jun 17, 2014 at 16:09

I agree with Danegraphics, but let me add a couple of notes:

If you use the "$" symbol, then it always goes before the amount, e.g. "$20". But if you write out the word "dollars", then you write it like we say it, and it comes after the amount, e.g. "twenty dollars".

If you need to distinguish US dollars from, say, Canadian dollars, it's common to put an abbreviation of the country name before the dollar sign, like "US$ 20" or "CAN$ 20".

As to WHY we put the symbol before the number ... I'm sure there's some historical reason. I've always thought it made no grammatical sense, as that's not how we read it.

For foreign currencies, we generally try to follow the conventions of the country it comes from. I was recently working on a web site that displays amounts in various currencies and we had a table that specified the symbol for each currency and also whether it goes before or after the amount.

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    For country specific dollar abbreviations, I see USD, CAD, and AUD far more often than $US or US$ style constructs. Jun 16, 2014 at 15:02
  • I've sometimes seem USD $20, which may be a bit redundant but attempts to be maximally readable to both US and non-US audiences.
    – keshlam
    Jun 16, 2014 at 15:05
  • @DanNeely I've seen both. I haven't really paid attention to which is more common. I'd guess that if you want to discuss many currencies, it makes sense to use a purely alpha abbreviation so you don't have to search through your fonts for the symbols for yen and rubles and denarii and so forth.
    – Jay
    Jun 16, 2014 at 18:56
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    "WHY we put the symbol before the number?" I guess that the reason (historically) is to avoid forgery. Having $ in front of the number is a good way to make it difficult for a malicious person to insert some digits in front of the number. (I usually write an equal sign in front of the amount of money in my checks, even though we don't write our currency symbol before the amount of money on our checks here.) Jun 17, 2014 at 4:53
  • @DamkerngT. Interesting thought. Of course if there's no decimal point in the amount, someone could add digits after just as well as before.
    – Jay
    Jun 17, 2014 at 17:50

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