# Thread: How numbers are written

1. ## How numbers are written

Okay, I have a question about numbers:

Why is it that they do not follow the normal rules of english. For example, I can read 1/2 as 'one-half, or one over two, or one divided by two'. Either way it is put, it is the same thing and same number. Either of those written forms is considered one number name.

Another example, I can write a number as 234.7 or 2.347x10^2. We read the latter number as two point three times ten to the second.

Numbers seems to be one case that can be one part of speech, despite at times they are written out complex, or in phrases. Why is that, is that just how they are defined? Just becuase it is math, not english?

I am a engineering student, simple answers would be the best. Thanks for the help.

I guess I am asking because if one were to write 2+2=4, there are two numbers that are equal, 2+2 and 4. 2+2 is just a number/expression and it is still one number. No other parts of speech can be expressed like that, so why numbers?

Thanks

2. ## Re: How numbers are written

Originally Posted by alkaspeltzar
Okay, I have a question about numbers:

Why is it that they do not follow the normal rules of english. For example, I can read 1/2 as 'one-half, or 'a half' - in normal conversation or one over two rare for this simple fraction, or one divided by two' only when you are performing that arithmetical operation. Either way it is put, it is the same thing and same number. Either of those written forms is considered one number name.

Another example, I can write a number as 234.7 'two hundred and thirty four point seven' normally or 2.347x10^2. We read the latter number as two point three times ten to the second in a scientific context..

Numbers seems to be one case that can be one part of speech, despite at times they are written out complex, or in phrases. Why is that, is that just how they are defined? Just becuase it is math, not english? Context is everything.

I am a engineering student, simple answers would be the best. Thanks for the help.

I guess I am asking because if one were to write 2+2=4, there are two numbers that are equal, 2+2 and 4. 2+2 is just a number/expression and it is still one number No, it is one mathematical expression made up of two numbers and a mathematical sign. No other parts of speech can be expressed like that, so why numbers?

Thanks

3. ## Re: How numbers are written

fivejedjon,

So what you are saying is that numbers just have different ways of being expressed and written.

And since sometimes we are working in the context of math and science, the numbers take different notations and/or are expressed implicitity......just the way it is. Like a different name.....

I guess I have to understand that english rules cannot apply to everything all the time, and math is one of those things that has its own form. When I think back to what I have learned in math, numbers are very special to how they are written, I guess there is not changing that.

Is that what you are saying? Do you agree? Please let me know. Thanks

4. ## Re: How numbers are written

I am not at all clear about what "rules" you think numbers do not follow. Can you provide an example?

5. ## Re: How numbers are written

Sure, I will provide the example below.

The number 1/2, can be stated and read as 'one over two".. technically speaking it would be noun, and a prepositional phrase which modifies 'one'.

But 'One over two" is not ever thought of as all of this. Instead, it is just taken as one number, just like stating one-half. It is a group of words acting as a single number, a single noun or adjective depending on the context.

Most things in english do not work that way.

Also Soothing Dave, look at Scientific Notation. THey consider the whole written expression to be ONE NUMBER, like 3.4 x 10^4 meters

That is why I asked the orginal question, numbers seem to take a special form and there is little explaination about it in text books other than in Math

6. ## Re: How numbers are written

I suspect that numbers may be expressed in different ways in different contexts in many languages.

But then, most things can. We use different vocabulary, grammatical structures, intonation, etc in different contexts.

In many places for chatting on the internet I might write:
i dunno what ur talking about.

On this forum I would write:
I don't know (
or: I do not know) what you're (or: you are) talking about.

I normally express 4.59 as: four point five nine.
When I was in the services, I said: fower decimal fife niner.

There are different conventions for different contexts. This is probably true for most languages.

7. ## Re: How numbers are written

Exactly my point, I guess that makes alot of sense.

I appreciate the examples and knowing that yes, what I am thinking is write and that this is the way it works

Thankyou!

8. ## Re: How numbers are written

Originally Posted by alkaspeltzar
Sure, I will provide the example below.

The number 1/2, can be stated and read as 'one over two".. technically speaking it would be noun, and a prepositional phrase which modifies 'one'.

But 'One over two" is not ever thought of as all of this. Instead, it is just taken as one number, just like stating one-half. It is a group of words acting as a single number, a single noun or adjective depending on the context.

Most things in english do not work that way.

Also Soothing Dave, look at Scientific Notation. THey consider the whole written expression to be ONE NUMBER, like 3.4 x 10^4 meters

That is why I asked the orginal question, numbers seem to take a special form and there is little explaination about it in text books other than in Math
Numerals (and expressions using them, like "3/4") are indeed treated as one item in the language.

But written expressions can be more difficult. We had a thread here a week or two back. In the sentence "Two plus three is five" the subject is "two" and it is modified by the prepositional phrase "plus three."

9. ## Re: How numbers are written

Originally Posted by SoothingDave
Numerals (and expressions using them, like "3/4") are indeed treated as one item in the language.

But written expressions can be more difficult. We had a thread here a week or two back. In the sentence "Two plus three is five" the subject is "two" and it is modified by the prepositional phrase "plus three."
Well, not every body agreed on that.
However, perhaps we shouldn't get side-tracked on that here.

10. ## Re: How numbers are written

My earlier thread turned to be confusing. That was frustrating!

But like I said, when looking at math, they don't distinguish two the subejct, plus three a phrase modifying. They look at 'two plus three' as a single number, a single numberal, single subject equal to five.

How can anyone logically look at the statement two plust three is five, and say two is the subject, that makes no sense. Do two apples equal five apples...no they don't

So Soothing Dave, like you said, "Numerals (and expressions using them, like "3/4") are indeed treated as one item in the language.

That is what I notice in math, therefore that is why it seems like numbers fall into their own special area of english when it comes to how they are formed and read.

IF someone can add feed back and understand what I am saying, that would be great. I mean, there is a reason math does not eqaul englsih.

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