View Full Version : Help! Which is correct?

01-13-2007, 07:03 AM
"Over 130 years old," Libby answered.


"Over one hundred and thirty years old," Libby answered.

This refers to the age of one of my characters.

Thanks in advance,


01-13-2007, 07:19 AM
The first one, I think.

I've always believed that if it's 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9, you should write it as a word. But if it's 10 or more, it's okay to write it as a number.

Silver King
01-13-2007, 07:39 AM
"Over 130 years old," Libby answered.
Libby should say, "Over one hundred thirty years old."

Here's a useful conversion site (http://www.easysurf.cc/cnvert18.htm) that helps put numbers into words.

01-13-2007, 08:01 AM

Thanks. That's what I thought too but Silver King's website looks like it will be a big help!

Thanks, Silver King--


01-13-2007, 08:49 AM
Mandy, the rule you gave is what we use in the newspaper world, but it generally isn't used in the fiction world.

01-13-2007, 09:16 AM
Mandy, the rule you gave is what we use in the newspaper world, but it generally isn't used in the fiction world.

In college I recall two English-related classes with two teachers, one had one rule about numerals and digits, another had another. It really annoyed me having to learn different and new rules each new class. The Engineering/Math/Physics/Chemistry departments were all consistent in requiring numerical answers to four (4) significant figures. Why couldn't two English teachers be better coordinated?

01-13-2007, 09:18 AM
Okay. Well now I'm more confused than ever!

Silver King
01-13-2007, 09:45 AM
Here's one way to think about it: Numbers do not represent words, though words represent numbers.

As veronie and ben point out, in journalism and math based writing, numbers are used. In fiction, words are numbers.

Someone will come along shortly and say, "What if the equation is 10,067,005,532,601?"

Then round it off into words; and if you can't, spell it out.

01-13-2007, 06:36 PM
It's impossible to speak a number. It can't be done. No one alive can say 1. No one alive can say 1,000,000. This is why we have words that represent numbers. So in dialogue, it's words. We say "one," and we say "one million."

01-13-2007, 06:39 PM
There's another thread in "grammar for" about this same question (from last summer). The old rule is that numbers under 100 need to be spelled out, over 100 it's okay to write them as numbers - or - numbers that can be expressed in two words or less should be spelled out, three words or more, write as numbers. So, two thousand is correct and so is 2001. The old thread also got into some specific numbers like 911 - the consensus was that specific numbers which are actually entities of themselves should be written as numbers. You might want to try to find the old thread and see what all was said. Puma

James Ritchie posted while I was writing - he's more of an authority than I am. And I remember we did get into the spoken aspect of numbers last summer.

Azure Skye
01-13-2007, 07:35 PM
Elements says, "Exception: When they occur in dialogue, most dates and numbers are best spelled out." It gives a few examples.

I've always spelled out my numbers because I think it's easier on the eye and I never fully learned the upper row on the keyboard.

01-13-2007, 07:47 PM
I was also taught to spell out numbers, and eliminate "and"...should be one hundred thirty years old. I hope this helps.

01-15-2007, 01:23 AM
I knew the rul of 1-9 spell, 10 or more using numbers is ok only IF you stayed consist and used numbers the whole time, no shifting back and forth. That is a great link thank you Silver King. :)