Consulting 7.1 Dealing with numbers: The basics

This lesson will help ensure that the basics of dealing with numbers: dates, big numbers and statistics, are all done smoothly and correctly. 


The way you deal with numbers needs to be quick, natural and precise. This is the first lesson to guide you through a variety of ways of dealing with numbers. 

Discuss with your teacher the difference between numbers in English compared to your native language. 

Warm Up: 

Read the following situations. What potential issues are there with this information? What are the repercussions if each one is not clarified?  

  • A colleague writes the tentative date and time of the digital launch: 03/04/2022 at 6:00. He is working with a global team including offices in America, the UK and Asia.

A. Dealing with time is important. While you should always use ordinal numbers for days (1st, 2nd, etc...) You cannot be sure that others will do the same.

  1. Read the following dates in the American style and the British style:
    • From your American colleague: 01/02/2019
    • From your Scottish colleague: 10/12/2000
    • From your Brazilian colleague: 03/10/2021
  2. Your American colleague prefers not to use "military time", so translate the following times: 
    • 23:20
    • 18:00
    • 13:30
    • 17:45
    • 21:54
    • Now, go back and read each time in natural spoken English using: after, past or to. 

B. Big numbers can be a challenge.

  1. Read the following big numbers. Think of at least two ways to say them—a specific number, and an approximate number:
    • 7,400,000
    • 8,302,478,218
    • 10,910,900,000,000
  2. Answer the following questions. 
    (Note: it is a very good idea to write big numbers so you can be completely confident you are saying them correctly.)
    • What is the population of the city where you live? 

    • What is the population of the country where you live? 
    • About how much money does the richest person in the world have?

C. Percentages and statistics can be said multiple ways. How many ways can you think of saying the following information? There are at least three major ones. Discuss the benefits or uses of each style. 

  1. 10%
  2. 80%

  3. 33%
  4. 0.12%
  5. 700%

Look at the following information and decide with your teacher on the best style to communicate the information: 

  • 0.8% of your products are defective. 
  • 5.7% of your staff report high motivation.
  • We would see a 300% increase.  
  • 40% of sick days are taken either on a Monday or a Friday. 

Your teacher has a number of questions for you. Answer them using the language above.