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''Let nature be your teacher''
William Wordsworth, poet, 1770-1850

Friday, 15 August 2014

Million, milliard or billion?

Level: Intermediate B1

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon at the bottom of the page if you want to print this exercise.

Confused about millions, milliards and billions?!
Read on! 


Millions and billions

The long and short scales are two large-number naming systems used throughout the world. Many countries, including most in continental Europe, use the long scale whereas most English-speaking countries and Arabic-speaking countries use the short scale.

Long scale is the English translation of the French term ├ęchelle longue. It refers to a system of large-number names in which every new term greater than million is a million times the previous term. Thus, billion means a million millions (1012), trillion means a million billions (1018), and so on.
Short scale is the English translation of the French term ├ęchelle courte. It refers to a system of large-number names in which every new term greater than million is 1,000 times the previous term. Thus, billion means a thousand millions (109), trillion means a thousand billions (1012), and so on
For integers less than a thousand million (<109), the two scales are identical. At and above a thousand million (≥109), the two scales diverge by using the same words for different number values. These "false friends" can be a source of misunderstanding!

For most of the 19th and 20th centuries, the UK used the long scale, while the USA used the short scale. In 1974, the UK government switched to the short scale.

Scientific         Numerals               Short Scale                 Long Scale
notation                                         (English)                      (non-English)
100                   1                                       one                              one
101                   10                                     ten                               ten
102                   100                                   hundred                       hundred
103                   1,000                                thousand                     thousand
104                   10,000                              ten thousand               ten thousand
105                   100,000                            hundred thousand       hundred thousand
106                   1,000,000                         million                         million
109                   1,000,000,000                  billion                          thousand million/milliard
1012                  1,000,000,000,000           trillion                          billion



1 comment:

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