Is there a 'proper' pronounciation of 2001

I admit that this question could have gone to IMHO or MPSIMS, but I have never posted there yet and I have no intention of starting now. :slight_smile:

I believe that the most common pronounciation would be two-thousand-and-one, but wouldn’t 2016, for example, be pronounced twenty-sixteen? It might be just me, but I would prefer that all the years in a century ‘match’.

So how about twenty-oh-one, in analogy to nineteen-oh-one? In fact, I have a certain liking for twenty-ought-one, a la Grandpa Simpson.

Not the most pressing issue, I agree, but still GQ-worthy.


Why not just oh-one? That’s what we call the graduating class this year, it’s just the class of '01 why bother to make it more complicated than it has to be?


I think the ‘proper’ pronunciation would be two thousand and one. It’s a number so you can’t pronounce it diefferently. Saying 01 is just abbreviating it as is any other variation.

Proper pronounciation of 2001 is “two thousand one”. I had a grade school teacher that drilled us that “and” should not be in the whole part of a number, but that it is used to separate the whole and fraction parts; e.g., 2001 [sup]3[/sup]/[sub]4[/sub] would be “two thousand one and three-fourths”.

As to pronouncing it as pertains to a year: “Twenty-oh-one” seems awkward, IMO. But once we get to 2010, “twenty-whatever” is OK.

I’m not sure there is a ‘proper’ pronunciation yet. I think we’ll have to wait and see what washes out as the most common usage before we peg one ‘proper.’ Myself, I’ve been using the ‘oh-whatever’ abbreviation for years up to 2009, and then ‘twenty-whatever’ for years after 2010. This feels natural to me.

My teachers taught me the same thing, but it’s arbitrary and pedantic, IMO. The rule certainly doesn’t apply to British English, as I have read books and articles by learned British authors who use the “and” in this context. Furthermore, “and” is perfectly logical, meaning “plus”. Lincoln said “four score and seven years ago”, and it would be just plain silly to correct it to “four score seven years ago.”

Which leads on to decade titles: Seventies, eighties, nineties, what next… naughties?

bibliophage, your response to the use of ‘and’ in the nomenclature for a number is faulty. First, you note that the standard is ‘arbitrary and pedantic.’ Arbitrary it certainly is; all grammar is arbitrary, as is all spelling. You might as well argue that we should spell things as we feel because, prior to introduction of the printing press, people spelled words any way they saw fit. As for ‘pedantic’, I presume you are using this in the sense of something narrow and stodgy. If the opposite to ‘pedantic’ is to be broad and accepting of any particular way someone wants to say a thing, regardless of whether it meets accepted rules of grammar, color me pedantic. The whole point to communication is to actually convey information, which task is made considerably easier when there is agreement about the rules of grammar, pronounciation and spelling. As for what the British do, I presume you don’t use a trolley in the store, etc. The English of England is not the English of America.

As for the reference to Lincoln, this misses the mark because it compares apples and oranges. ‘Fourscore and seven years ago’ is not naming a number, it is describing a length of time. It does so by naming the number of scores of years, and the additional numbers of years beyond that invloved in the computation. The comarable statement for 2001 would be: “Two millenia and 1 year ago.” But the word ‘two-thousand-one’ is not the same thing; it is the proper word for the numeral ‘2001’, just as the proper word for ‘20’ is ‘twenty’, not ‘score’. In this case, ‘two-thousand-and-one’ is improper, admittedly because of ‘arbitrary’ rules, rules which nonetheless serve a valid and useful purpose. :slight_smile:


Of course, not. He uses his trolley in the shop. Store is an American barbarism (even if it did come to fluency in the States due to oppressive British tax laws).

What’s so horrible about saying “two-thousand one?”

Why is is so important that everything be shortened? Maybe the world would be a lot prettier if our language were more florid, and maybe the upcoming new millenium will bring about this change-
or reversion to the olde ways.

Cause since there are no robot-maids or flying cars around, we feel kinda stupid living in such a futuristic date… :smiley:

Show me somebody who said “one thousand nine hundred (and) one,” and I’ll agree that “two thousand (and) one” is “proper.” We’ve been saying “nineteen whatever,” “eighteen whatever,” etc. for decades (centuries?), and in my book, twenty comes after nineteen.

Proper, and what people say are two different things. The PROPER way to say 1998 (ex.) is nineteen thousand ninty eight. The commonly accepted way is nineteen eighty eight

Y’mean nineteen hundred ninety-eight. :D:D

Nah, I’m YEARS ahead of you. :wink:

Thank you AWB. That’s what I get for posting on my way out to lunch.

Actually, AWB’s corrections points out one reason we do say nineteen ninety-nine. In English, nineteen hundred is an acceptable way to say 1900, whereas twenty hundred for 2000 is not a normal expression. (Just to point out that some languages, e.g. Spanish, would say 1999 as one thousand nine hundred ninety and nine.)

As to what’s proper, it is arbitrary. I say “two thousand and one” right now, but I have no problem with “twenty oh one.” I’ll probably say “twenty oh ten,” but “two thousand ten” sounds fine. I think there is definitely a difference between 2001 the year and 2001 the number. If by chance I ever need to write a check for $2,001.00, I will write on the amount as “two thousand one and 00/100.”

Why? “Score” means 20 and “twenty” means 20. I think what bibliophage meant by “pedantic” is someone

I agree that people who inists there is one right way to say a number are being pedantic.

No No No

A ‘score’ is twenty of something.

20 is a numeral, the word version of which is ‘twenty’.

This is not a pedantic difference, as there are definite grammar differences between the two.

I cannot, for instance, talk about 23 as ‘score-three’ or the number ‘a score and three’.

These types of rules may seem trivial, but they are not. They are the bedrock of good grammar, which helps in establishing effective communication.

How do they help in that? If few people understand these rules, and so they are not normally used by most people who speak the language, then effective communication has not been furthered by their existance.

In Mexican Spanish anyway, they would speak thus: “mil nova cientos noventa neuve,” with no and in there at all, which is roughly “Thousand Nine Hundred Ninety Nine.” Note that “mil” is already inclusive of “one,” that is, “un-mil” is wrong for a year, but “dos mil” is okay (el año dos mil, or dos mil uno).
As to why they use nova to mean nine instead of “neuve” (consistently) must have some historical significance beyond me. FWIW, they have a similiar arrangement with their number 5 (…cuatro, cinco, seis; but quatro cientos, quiniento, seis cientos).