Numbers Exercise (531)

Revise each sentence below to reflect correct usage and style. (One or more sentences may be correct.)

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: If you had a machine that produced $100 dollars for life, what would you be willing to pay for it today?
Correct : If you had a machine that produced a hundred dollars for life, what would you be willing to pay for it today?

Redundantly preceding a numeral with a dollar sign and following it with the word "dollar" is a common error. Also, spell out round numbers like "one hundred" unless the content includes numerous dollar amounts or other figures styled numerically.

2.
Original: Three hundred twenty-seven students voted for Mary Jones, and 289 cast a ballot for John Smith.
Correct : Three hundred twenty-seven students voted for Mary Jones, and 289 cast a ballot for John Smith.

This sentence is technically correct. Normally, numbers above nine or those over one hundred, depending on which of two primary style recommendations one adheres to, are usually referred to with numerals, but one of numerous exceptions is when a number begins a sentence. To minimize exceptions, recast the sentence so that it doesn’t begin with a number (for example, "Mary Jones received 327 votes, and 289 students cast a ballot for John Smith").

3.
Original: One hundred and eighty-three people attended the event.
Correct : One hundred eighty-three people attended the event.

If you do spell out a number because it begins a sentence, in American English, avoid the conversational "and" between place values.

4.
Original: There are four chairs in the first room, 11 in the second room, and 16 in the third room.
Correct : There are four chairs in the first room, eleven in the second room, and sixteen in the third room.

When referring to numbers of like objects when numbers, if appearing in isolation, would typically be styled differently from each other, adopt a consistent style. (If you adhere to the up-to-ten dividing line, rather than the over-one-hundred distinction, to decide whether to spell numbers out or use numerals, all three numbers in this sentence should be in numeral form.)

5.
Original: About 410,000,000 people speak some form of Spanish.
Correct : About 410 million people speak some form of Spanish.

For orders of magnitude (millions, billions, and so on), use the term for the order of magnitude, rather than hard-to-read sets of zeros divided by commas, for round numbers. For precise numbers, such as 4,877,923, consider rounding off to one decimal place ("4.9 million") except in the rare instance when a precise count is required.

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