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    #1

    comma in numerals

    Hello everybody!

    Here is a question about numerals:
    Should the comma be always used to divide orders in large numbers?

    Like: 5,514,924

    Or, can I put it like: 5 514 924

    Is the latter acceptable? What is taught in schools?

    Why I'm asking is because Russians use the comma rather than a point to divide decimal digits . Orders are sometimes divided by a point (it is rarely used, almost never).
    So, I got tons of questions when I put the Russian 1200 (one thousand two hunred) as 1,200 in English. Russians read it as "one point two" (well of course in Russian it sounds differently, but the meaning is exactly that).
    Will you please shed some light upon this dilemma?

    I'd especially like to hear from Americans because my translations are mostly done for U.S. guys.

    Still, opinions are welcome from everybody.
    Thank you.

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    #2

    Re: comma in numerals

    *just an assistant ESL teacher

    I cannot think of a time where it is a bad idea to use the commas. We do sometimes leave out commas with numbers like 1200 and then say "twelve hundred" instead of "one thousand two hundred" but you should be always safe if you use commas.



  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: comma in numerals

    Context normally makes things clear.

    If a Russian writes, "The average Russian male drinks 2,345 litres of vodka a month", any confusion in the American reader's mind is likely to be brief, but, if you are writing in English, it is better to use the English convention, commas

    A Russian will not be confused for long if an American writes, "2,345 people live in this settlement". And, if s/he is confused, that is unfortunate; however, that convention is something that needs be learnt.

    If you suspect that your readers may be confused, you can always add an explanatory footnote.

    .

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    #4

    Re: comma in numerals

    How about a context like that:

    It was identified that, with all studied coatings, the X-composite showed high wear resistance amongst all materials tested (at Stage 5) in the friction couple unit at the pressure of 0.2 MPa, gas temperature of 150 C, under dry friction conditions, at the sliding speed of 5.8 m/s, axial load of 154 N (specific load of 1.8 MPa), running time of up to 1200 seconds.

    I understand the use of commas is not obligatory. Still, it is more convenient to use the commas to facilitate reading.

    I just want to avoid arguing with Russian engineers (whose stuff I translate) about incorrect understanding of my translations on the American side.
    They ever stick to me with those commas!

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    #5

    Re: comma in numerals

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack8rkin View Post
    Hello everybody!

    Here is a question about numerals:
    Should the comma be always used to divide orders in large numbers?

    Like: 5,514,924

    Or, can I put it like: 5 514 924

    Is the latter acceptable? What is taught in schools?

    Why I'm asking is because Russians use the comma rather than a point to divide decimal digits . Orders are sometimes divided by a point (it is rarely used, almost never).
    So, I got tons of questions when I put the Russian 1200 (one thousand two hunred) as 1,200 in English. Russians read it as "one point two" (well of course in Russian it sounds differently, but the meaning is exactly that).
    Will you please shed some light upon this dilemma?

    I'd especially like to hear from Americans because my translations are mostly done for U.S. guys.

    Still, opinions are welcome from everybody.
    Thank you.
    I am not a teacher.

    This is a matter of style, not opinion. In English, the underlying style rule is "be clear", but there are other conventions. We almost always use the commas. That's just the way we do it, and it looks no more strange to you Russians than your multiple decimal points look to us. Some exceptions to that rule are addresses, page numbers and dates smaller than 10,000. Use the commas at all other times, and you won't go far wrong.

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    #6

    Re: comma in numerals

    Thank you so much!

    In my case intercultural communication inteferes in the matters.
    I'd like to use the commas, but I have to fight and prove that I'm right when using them. I have to explain that Americans read 1,200 as "one thousand two hundred" rather than "one point two". And Russians insist that the comma will definitely cause a confusion.

    I'm still guessing if it all is worth the effort I put into explanations and arguments.
    Should not it be better just leave out the commas?

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    #7

    Re: comma in numerals

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack8rkin View Post
    Should not it be better just leave out the commas?
    No.

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    #8

    Re: comma in numerals

    Quote Originally Posted by Coolfootluke View Post
    No.
    I second that.

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    #9

    Re: comma in numerals

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack8rkin View Post
    And Russians insist that the comma will definitely cause a confusion.
    Just tell them that if you are writing English, you must follow English conventions. Using Russian conventions in an English language text would cause a lot more confusion.

    The Russian way is right - when you are writing in Russian.
    The English way is right - when you are writing in English.

    Your situation is similar to a Russian insisting that his capital city be spelt MOCKBA and pronounced 'Moskva' in English. Like it or not, when we are using English, that city is spelt M-O-S-C-O-W, and pronounced in a different way from the Russian way.

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    #10

    Re: comma in numerals

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack8rkin View Post
    Thank you so much!

    In my case intercultural communication inteferes in the matters.
    I'd like to use the commas, but I have to fight and prove that I'm right when using them. I have to explain that Americans read 1,200 as "one thousand two hundred" rather than "one point two". And Russians insist that the comma will definitely cause a confusion.

    I'm still guessing if it all is worth the effort I put into explanations and arguments.
    Should not it be better just leave out the commas?
    No. Americans do not read commas as decimal points. If the audience for the work is Americans, then you should use the American conventions.

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