English Language; Drama & Speech; Social Etiquette. Est. 1986, Hong Kong


12 February 2016

The Numbers Have It!

It can be difficult for language learners to say big numbers out loud when they read about them in different situations. For example, 1989:

Dates:  1986 (nineteen eighty six)

Money, population, etc.:  1986 (one thousand nine hundred and eighty six)

Mathematics:  1.986 (one point nine eight six)


Zero is an Interesting Case How can we use zero? Let me count the ways . . .

Zero Temperature   -6º C

Countdown     3-2-1-0!

It’s six degrees below zero

Three two one zero!

Nought Counting, numbering, and after decimal points







Nought point seven five

Nought point seven percent Nought point five nought one

(“nought” can be interchanged with “zero”)

Oh Time – for the 24-hour clock

08:00 hours


Phone numbers

9804 2172


Hotel rooms

Room 604



Bus 307 to Tai Po


Oh eight hundred hours



Nine eight oh four …



Room six oh four



Bus three oh seven to Tai Po

Nil Football

The score – 0 : 0 draw


It was a nilnil draw.

Love Tennis

The score – 30 : 0

The score was thirty to love


The following group activity is good for learners who want help saying numbers in English. Write interesting facts and figures about certain countries on slips of paper and place them around the room. On other slips of paper only write the figures (not the facts) relating to these countries.

The learner picks a slip of paper from the pile of numbered pieces and tries to find the matching sheet with fact and figure posted around the room. When the matching sheet has been found, the learner says the number out loud.

Here is another great exercise for learners! The teacher or parent can write “0” in the middle of the board or a piece of paper and then get the learners to brainstorm different ways of saying it in English.