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  1. #1
    frogboxer is offline Junior Member
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    Default British Abbreviations for 'Million', 'Billion', 'Trillion' in Written Text

    British Abbreviations for Million, Billion, Trillion


    Are these correct?


    The government paid $100m for improvements.


    It was a $100m a year industry.


    It was a $100m per year industry.


    a $100m to $150m per year industry


    A $5bn investment was made early last year.


    The government is in debt for $1tn.


    a $1tn deficit

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Grumpy's Avatar
    Grumpy is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: British Abbreviations for 'Million', 'Billion', 'Trillion' in Written Text

    The British abbreviations for a million and a billion are as you have illustrated. I have never seen a trillion abbreviated, and the term itself is very seldom used, since most people would not know how many items make up a trillion.
    I'm not a teacher of English, but I have spoken it for (almost) all of my life....

  3. #3
    probus's Avatar
    probus is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: British Abbreviations for 'Million', 'Billion', 'Trillion' in Written Text

    Here is a quotation from the style guide of The Economist, my favourite British publication:

    Use m for million, but spell out billion,except in charts, where bn is permissible but not obligatory. Thus: 8m, £8m, 8 billion, €8 billion. A billion is a thousand million, a trillion a thousand billion, a quadrillion a thousand trillion.

    Use 5,000-6,000, 5-6%, 5m-6m (not 5-6m) and 5 billion-6 billion. But sales rose from 5m to 6m (not 5m-6m); estimates ranged between 5m and 6m (not 5m-6m).

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: British Abbreviations for 'Million', 'Billion', 'Trillion' in Written Text

    Does anyone know whether astronomers abbreviate trillion? They may use the term more often.

  5. #5
    probus's Avatar
    probus is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: British Abbreviations for 'Million', 'Billion', 'Trillion' in Written Text

    In my opinion astronomers, like all scientists, would resort to the mathematical notation of exponents. Instead of writing four trillion parsecs, an astronomer would use 4 x 109 parsecs or 4 x 106 kiloparsecs. Amazingly, perhaps, this occurs in speech as well as in writing. Not only have I often heard things like 4 x 109 spoken as four by ten to the ninth or four times ten to the ninth, I've actually done it myself.

  6. #6
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: British Abbreviations for 'Million', 'Billion', 'Trillion' in Written Text

    Quote Originally Posted by probus View Post
    Not only have I often heard things like 4 x 109 spoken as four by ten to the ninth or four times ten to the ninth, I've actually done it myself.
    I do that when I try to calculate how many units of alcohol I have drunk in my life. ('trillion' sounds obscene). Unfortunately, few people appear to understand 'sshicksh by ten to the ner-ninsh'.

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