Telephone numbers

It’s easy to get confused when giving out your telephone number in English. And it’s often even more confusing when callers tell you their phone numbers! Let’s look at some basic rules:

1. Say each figure separately in groups of two or three. For example, the number 973-8562 is usually said: “Nine-seven-three, eight-five, six-two.” Don’t say: “nine hundred and seventy-three, eighty-five, sixty-two.” This is never done with telephone numbers in English and would confuse most of your international callers. The number “0” is pronounced as “zero”, or like the letter “o”, and the word “oh”. The number 0208 307 160 could be pronounced: “Zero-two, zero-eight, three-zero-
seven, one-six-zero.” Or you could say: “o-two, o-eight, three-o-seven, one-six-o.” In Britain, some people use “nought” instead of zero. Don’t use this yourself, as it can be confusing. Just remember what it means when your British business counterpart says it to you.

2. If a figure occurs twice in sequence, you can say “double”. For example, 055 677 8899 is “zero-double five, six-double seven, double eight, double nine”.

3. If a figure occurs three times in a row, you have two choices. The number 099 444 2333 can be said: “Zero-double nine, triple four, two-triple three.” Or say: “Zero-double nine, four-double four, two-three, double three.”

4. Numbers with several zeros at the end are often said as whole numbers. For example, 07 2000 is said: “Zero-seven, two thousand.”


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