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Writing Numbers in French and English

Numbers Syllabus Translation MontrealYou might assume that numbers are the same in English and French, but it isn’t the case.

In Canadian English, a period is used as the decimal marker, and a comma (or space) is used to separate three numerals. For example, 26,000 reads as twenty-six thousand.

In French—and many other languages—a comma indicates the decimal, so 26,000 reads as twenty-six. That’s a huge difference from how an anglo would interpret it! The proper way to write twenty-six thousand in French is 26 000 or 26000.

Similarly, remember that in English, the dollar sign always precedes the figure and is never separated by a space. In French, the dollar sign goes after the figure, with a space before it. Again, a comma is used as the decimal marker. As for periods, they simply have no place in French numerical expressions.

Six dollars and fifty cents would therefore be written in the following fashion:

$6.50 (English)

6,50 $ (French)

While these may seem like minor details, when you’re talking dollars and cents, a misplaced comma can be a big deal! In Quebec, people may be able to figure out what you mean because they’re used to seeing both languages, but it could really throw a monolingual person for a loop!

More information on writing numbers in English can be found here. For French rules, check here.

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