English Usage Topics > Money
American currency consists of dollars and cents. There are a hundred cents in a dollar. Americans use the word bill to refer to paper money. There are bills worth one, two, five, ten, twenty, fifty, and a hundred dollars. Bills larger than this are used only between banks.
Ellen put a five-dollar bill and three ones on the counter.
There are coins worth one, five, ten, twenty-five and fifty cents. These are often referred to by the special words penny, nickel, dime, quarter, and half-dollar.
I only had a dollar bill, a quarter, two dimes and a nickel, and three pennies.
In informal speech, buck is often used instead of 'dollar'.
I got 500 bucks for it.
When writing amounts of money, you use the dollar symbol $, or c for cents. For example, two hundred dollars is written as $200, fifty cents is written as 50c, and two dollars fifty cents is written as $2.50.
When saying aloud an amount of money that consists of dollars and cents, you don't usually say the word 'cents'. For example, you say two dollars fifty or simply two fifty.
British currency consists of pounds and pence. There are a hundred pence in a pound.
Writing amounts of money
When you write amounts of money in figures, the pound symbol £ is shown in front of the figures. For example, two hundred pounds is written as £200. Million is sometimes abbreviated to m, and billion to bn. k and K are sometimes used as abbreviations for thousand when people's salaries are being mentioned.
About £20m was invested in the effort.
...revenues of £6bn.
...Market Manager, £30K + bonus + car.
If an amount of money consists only of pence, you put the letter p after the figures. For example, fifty pence is written as 50p.
If an amount of money consists of both pounds and pence, you write the pound symbol and separate the pounds and the pence with a full stop. Don't write 'p' after the pence. For example, 'two pounds fifty pence' is written as £2.50.
Saying amounts of money
When saying aloud an amount of money that consists only of pence, you say the word pence or the letter p (pronounced like 'pea') after the number.
When saying aloud an amount of money that consists of pounds and pence, you don't usually say the word 'pence'. For example, you say two pounds fifty.
In conversation, people sometimes say pound not 'pounds'. For example, they say 'I get ten pound a week'. However, many people regard this as incorrect, so you should say pounds.
The words 'pounds' and 'pence' are often left out when it is clear which you are referring to.
At the moment they're paying £2 for their meal, and it costs us three.
'I've come to pay an account.' – 'All right then, fine, that's four seventy-eight sixty then, please.'
In informal speech, quid is often used instead of 'pound' or 'pounds'.
'How much did you have to pay?' – 'Eight quid.'
Asking and stating the cost of something
When you ask or state the cost of something, you use the verb be. You begin a question about cost with How much....
How much is that?
The cheapest is about eight pounds.
You can also use the verb cost. This is slightly more formal.
How much will it cost?
They cost several hundred pounds.
You can mention the person buying something by adding a pronoun or other noun phrase after cost.
It would cost me around six hundred.
Notes and coins
You use notes to refer to paper money. In British currency, there are notes worth five, ten, twenty, and fifty pounds.
You didn't have a five-pound note, did you?
Several paid on the spot in notes.
Don't say 'a five-pounds note'.
You use coins to refer to metal money. In British currency, there are coins worth one, two, five, ten, twenty, and fifty pence, one pound, and two pounds.
You should make sure that you have a ready supply of coins for making phone calls.
If you want to refer to a coin that is worth a particular amount, you usually use the word piece.
That fifty pence piece has been there all day.
The machine wouldn't take 10p pieces.
You can refer to coins that you have with you as change.
He rattled the loose change in his pocket.
Expressing a rate
When you want to express the rate at which money is spent or received, you use a or per after the amount. Per is more formal.
He gets £180 a week.
Farmers spend more than half a billion pounds per year on pesticides.
Per annum is sometimes used instead of 'per year'.
...staff earning less than £11,500 per annum.
Expressing quantity by cost
You can talk about a quantity of something by saying how much it costs using worth of.
He owns some 20 million pounds worth of property in Mayfair.
Many countries use the same units for their currencies. If you need to show clearly which country's currency you are talking about, you use a nationality adjective.
...a contract worth 200 million Canadian dollars.
It cost me about thirteen hundred Swiss francs .
Note that some currencies have some units in common, but also have some different units. For example, Britain uses pounds and pence, but Egypt uses pounds and piastres.
When talking about exchange rates, you say how many units of one currency there are to the other unit of currency.
The rate of exchange while I was there was 1.10 euros to the pound.
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