2

In German I would say for the number 3.14 "drei komma vierzehn" or "drei komma eins vier" which is both used (although in case of Pi which is special, I think people more often say "drei komma vierzehn"). In English this is "three point fourteen" and "three point one four" (I also think both is ok but I am not an native English speaker).

So can I also say in French both for 3.14 like "trois virgule quatorze" and "trois virgule un quatre"?

5
  • 1
    In my experience it's pretty rare to hear decimal numbers as anything but individual digits in English, although it's certainly there in the back of our minds to legitimize Pi Day :)
    – Luke Sawczak
    Jan 2 at 14:36
  • German too, and I would never say "drei Komma vierzehn". My math teacher in school hated that. I always say "drei Komma eins vier".
    – Robin
    Jan 3 at 13:33
  • 1
    @Robin Related german.stackexchange.com/questions/7622/…
    – jlliagre
    Jan 4 at 9:46
  • Thank you very much for all your input! When I was in school and later in university, it was common in math and physics to say drei-komma-vierzehn (or e.g. zwei-komma-zweiundsiebzig for 2.72) but this might not have been correct according to the various links you posted here.
    – UweD
    Jan 4 at 10:40
  • 1
    @UweD If a non negligible amount of native German speakers say it that way, perhaps it shouldn't be considered nicht korrekt... see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_prescription
    – jlliagre
    Jan 5 at 0:06

2 Answers 2

2

Technically, that should be trois virgule quatorze (as this answer states too) but in that particular case, most people I know just say trois-quatorze.

Pourquoi la quadrature du cercle est-elle impossible ? Trois-quatorze-quinze... cette ritournelle bien connue décrit le rapport, appelé nombre Pi, entre la circonférence d'un cercle et son diamètre.
Joaquín Navarro, Les secrets du nombre π, 2011.

I have never heard anyone saying trois virgule un quatre. That would be considered kind of "illiterate", done by someone unable to build numbers from digits. Only the digit 0, especially a leading one, is pronounced individually.

We also generally omit to name the decimal separator or the unit when talking about temperatures or sometimes with prices, e.g. Trente-sept deux le matin (37°2 le matin).

An alternate way, taught at school but rarely used otherwise, is to use a unit for the decimal part:

3,14 : trois quatorze centièmes
3,14159 : trois quatorze mille cent cinquante-neuf cent-millièmes.

See also Comment prononcer les nombres à virgule ?

In France, like in Germany I believe, decimal numbers are expected to be written with a comma, not a decimal point: 3,14.

20
  • 1
    In English though, I've never heard anyone say "fourteen" in this context. "Three fourteen fifteen" would be even weirder. Jan 2 at 1:59
  • 2
    I don't know if it's still true for schoolchildren nowadays but as far as I can remember from a very early age I could say trois quatorze cent seize without probably really understanding what it was all about. It was like a catchphrase one had to learn by heart. Et en plus c'était faux !!!!!
    – None
    Jan 2 at 10:26
  • 1
    @None Comme la révolution de 17 189 :-)
    – jlliagre
    Jan 2 at 14:04
  • 1
    @jlliagre "room 314 would be generally named "three fourteen" in English". True, but that's simply omitting the word "hundred". The values "3.14" and "3.140" are equal, but "three fourteen" and "three one forty" (or "three one hundred forty") sound very different, the second sounding much larger. Saying the digits individually after the decimal mark is the most common, and most reasonable, way of saying it in English. Jan 3 at 14:47
  • 1
    I agree with @Harry Audus. If I put 3,141592653589793 in the "leconjugueur" linked above, I get : "trois virgule cent quarante et un billions cinq cent quatre-vingt-douze milliards six cent cinquante-trois millions cinq cent quatre-vingt-neuf mille sept cent quatre-vingt-treize". Not very handy, is it? My question is, could I also simply say "trois virgule un quatre un cinq etc. etc.", so one digit at a time, as I would in German?
    – Robin
    Jan 17 at 12:50
3

While the correct punctuation to use for decimals is a comma, it is common in Canada to say [number] point [number] in informal speech.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.