When to Hyphenate Numbers

Why we need hyphens in numbersKnowing when to hyphenate numbers is important because the correct use of the hyphen helps your reader to understand which numbers are part of a given adjective and avoids any ambiguity.

Let’s look at the example on the left.

Is the guy working twenty shifts that are each four hours long, twenty-four shifts that are each an hour long? Or shifts that last twenty-four hours in total?

As you can see, where you place the hyphen in the number can make a significant difference to the meaning of the sentence.

Hyphenating Numbers: The Rules

  1. You should always hyphenate numbers when you are describing compound numbers between 21 and 99 (except 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 and 90). A compound number is any number that consists of two words; for example, eighty-eight, twenty-two, forty-nine.
  2. Numbers higher than 99 do not need a hyphen.

Hyphenating Numbers: Examples

The bingo caller pulled a ball from the machine and announced: “Two little ducks, twenty-two.”

There were over one hundred people in line for the concert.

A total of two hundred and fifty-five people participated in the survey.

A one hundred million dollar profit is not such a big deal when you made two hundred and eighty-six million dollars the year before.

I haven’t seen Gerald since nineteen forty-five.

I was shocked to see that there were three hundred chickens living in the barn.

24,624,678 (24,624,678.5 (twenty-four million, six hundred twenty-four thousand, six hundred seventy-eight and five tenths).

 

One more thing…

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