English Grammar Review
Special Topics

Quantities

Quantities can be written as digits (6) or as words (six). There are so many rules about this that you should have a good reference book for your writing at work.

There are a few situations where concensus provides us with appropriate guidance.

The borderline

For the word eleven, type out the digits for the number: 11. Do the same for higher quantities. For quantities less than 11, type the word, i.e., one through ten.

Mr. Murthy ordered ten copies of the Mumbai directory. My assistant sent 14 directories by mistake.

Sentence beginnings

A quantity stated at the beginning of a sentence should be typed out as one or two words. When it would take more than two words, rewrite the sentence.

20 days ago, Sudha joined the company.
[not ideal]

Twenty days ago, Sudha joined the company.
[okay]

One hundred and fifty-eight days ago, Ratish ordered the part.
[too many number words]

Ratish ordered the part 158 days ago.
[clear]

Undesired emphasis

When you want to de-emphasize a quantity, type it out in words.

I would like to lose twenty pounds by the next board meeting.

An indefinite quantity

When a quantity is indefinite, type it out in words.

Ms. Venkatesh contacted more than a hundred investors. We already have thousands of customers. We only need a few million dollars.

Consistent references

Be consistent in naming quantities when there are multiple quantities listed in a sentence.

Akshay sent out two hundred emails but only received 100 responses.
[not consistent]

Akshay sent out 200 emails but only received 100 responses.
[okay]

Akshay sent out two hundred emails but only received one hundred responses.
[okay]

In a sequence of smaller quantities, if any are 11 or larger, consistently present all the quantities with digits.

They had five desks, six chairs, and 12 cabinets.
[not consistent]

They had 5 desks, 6 chairs, and 12 cabinets.
[correct]

Technical measurement

Quantities of measurement that are technical in nature should not be typed out in words. Those that lack technical significance can be typed out in words.

Delivery is free within a 15-mile radius.
[technical in nature]

It's a quick fifteen miles to the restaurant.
[not technically significant]

Lesson: Quantities
Module: Special Topics
Course: English Grammar Review