Jun 25, 2012

Grammar Hammer: Happy Fourth or 4th of July?

For this year’s Independence Day, we have three very simple rules on when to write out numbers and when to use numerals:

Rule 1: Spell out single-digit whole numbers. Use numerals for numbers greater than nine.

  • I had two beers before the fireworks started.
  • Can you seriously eat 10 hot dogs? Barf!
  • She just bought six glow sticks!
  • He hung up 15 flags.

Rule 2: Always follow Rule 1 for consistency, even if it means including a numeral and spelled-out number in the same sentence.

  • There were 12 waffle balls when this game started, and now there’s only seven. Stop hitting homeruns!
  • He made 15 cheeseburgers 20 minutes ago and now there’s only one left.

Rule 3: Ages are always numerals.

  • The girl was 2 years old.
  • His baby is 8 months old.

Enjoy the food and fireworks! Happy Fourth of July!

Written by Grace Lavigne, senior editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. Grammar Hammer is published weekly on ProfNet Connect, a free social networking site for communicators. To read more from Grace, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.


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