Consider the following written sentence:

By 1911 the company had grown considerably since its humble beginnings, ten years earlier in 1901.

In vernacular speech, a common oral representation is one taking the following form:

By nineteen eleven the company had grown considerably since its humble beginnings, ten years earlier in ninteen "oh" one.

Most formally, one might use "nineteen hundred eleven" and "nineteen hundred one". As some know, historical documents have used the now antiquated expression "in the year of our Lord", expressing the Christian antecedents of the Western calendars.

It is clear enough that "nineteen eleven" is suitable nearly universally, but the "oh" in "nineteen oh one" is quite casual, and begs for an alternative in slightly more formal contexts.

Do any sources describe whether any particular oral style is most preferred in modern speech, such as to present neither as vernacular or pompous?

1 Answer 1


Your description is correct.

In the years from 2000 to 2009 it was common to say, for example "two thousand and one". You sometimes hear "two thousand and twenty-one", but "twenty twenty-one" is much more common. (This change seems to have been due to the popularity of the movie Two Thousand and One, A Space Odyssey.)

British English speakers would not say "nineteen hundred eleven", but might say "nineteen hundred and eleven" in rather formal contexts.

But most of the time the "casual" form is preferred:

  • "Nineteen oh one",
  • "Nineteen eleven",
  • "Two thousand and five",
  • "Twenty-two eighty-five"

"In the year of our Lord" is just an English translation of "Anno Domini". Don't say it, unless it is written out. But you can say "AD /eidi:/ twenty twenty-one" or "twenty twenty-one BC" if necessary. You'll occasionally see CE and BCE in scientific use. "AD" comes before the number but "BC", "BCE" and "CE" come after, if they are used.

  • British English speakers would use "and": "Nineteen hundred and eleven" I don't know about that. Maybe in legal documents or something ultra-formal. Otherwise, Queen Victoria died in nineteen-oh-one, Edward the Seventh died in nineteen-ten, the Great War started in nineteen-fourteen. Nov 28, 2021 at 9:31
  • I mean would use "and" if they were using the formal "nineteen hundred". British speakers wouldn't say "Nineteen hundred eleven". They would say "Nineteen eleven" and they would say "Nineteen hundred and eleven" (though is probably an unnecessary formality)
    – James K
    Nov 28, 2021 at 9:51
  • We used to be taught 'In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue'. Nov 28, 2021 at 14:16
  • The content in the answer seems simply to reiterate the premise of the question, rather than addressing the matter of inquiry, whether a consensus has emerged in contemporary speech for a preferred form that is neither vernacular or pompous.
    – brainchild
    Nov 28, 2021 at 23:22
  • @epl The answer could perhaps have been a bit clearer, but as implied in the comments, "nineteen oh six" is the neutral or default form. One would not be surprised to hear it in a lecture, in a formal speech, in a BBC documentary or news broadcast, in Parliament or in a court of law. It is "nineteen hundred (and) six" that is markedly formal - "nineteen oh six" isn't markedly informal (in modern English).
    – rjpond
    Nov 29, 2021 at 10:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .