Understanding number conventions for the Listening module

Some completion tasks on the Listening module require you to listen for numbers. Here are some number conventions you need to be familiar with.

Telephone numbers

Telephone numbers are usually spoken as individual numbers. For example, the number 432567 would be spoken as ‘four three two five six seven’.

Seven digit numbers may be divided into one group of three and one group of four numbers. There will be a pause between the two groups.

So, the number 982-7456 would be spoken as ‘nine eight two …. seven four five six’.

Some numbers may be grouped into a larger number. For example, numbers involving consecutive zeros will most probably be spoken as a larger number. So, the number 786900 will be spoken as ‘seven eight six nine hundred’.

In telephone numbers the number zero is spoken as ‘o’. The words double and triple may also be used. For example, the number 225-6777 will probably be spoken as ‘double two five … six triple seven’.

Decimal numbers

We use the word point to indicate a decimal number. Examples are 16.35 and 10.02

The first part is spoken as a whole. The second part is spoken individually. So the number 12.65 is spoken as ‘twelve point six five’


We do not use the word ‘point’ when we talk about prices. For example, $14.35 would be spoken as fourteen dollars and thirty-five cents.

Sometimes the currency is left and $12.50 can also be spoken as twelve fifty.


Fractions are usually expressed with –th(s) at the end. There are some well-known exceptions: a half, a quarter and a third.

The fraction 4/5 is spoken as four-fifths. ½ is spoken as ‘a half’ and 1/3 is spoken as ‘a third’.


Sometimes the thousands may be expressed in hundreds. For example, 1,500 can be spoken as one thousand five hundred’ or ‘fifteen hundred’.


Dates can be written in several different ways. Note that in British English, the pattern is DD/MM/YY. That means, the day comes before the month. In American English, the month comes before the day.

Since the IELTS is a British test, you need to follow the British conventions. In British English, periods may be used to separate the different elements of a date. For example May 21, 1980 can be written as 21.05.1980 or 21.5.1980 or 21.05.80.

In American English, slashes are used to separate the elements. Therefore June 18, 2006 can be written as 06/18/06 or 6/18/2006.

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I'm Manjusha. This is my blog where I give IELTS preparation tips.

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