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Fractions in English (Basic, A-Level)

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In this lesson, you will learn how to say the fractions in English (½, , ¾, and so on). You can also represent fractions as decimals such as .5 or half, .25 or a quarter, and so on.

The purpose of this lesson is to teach you the vocabulary related to fractions and decimals, not to teach you mathematics.


Prerequisite: To understand this lesson, you need to know the cardinal numbers and ordinal numbers in English.

Using cardinal and ordinal numbers in fractions

What Are Fractions?

You get a fraction by dividing something into smaller parts. If you divide a dollar into four parts, you have 1 dollar divided by 4 or ¼.

You can read ¼ as “one-fourth” or “one-quarter.”

That is why a 25-cent coin is called “a quarter” in the United Sates.


Reading Fractions

The top number is a fraction is called the numerator. The bottom number is the denominator.

To read a fraction,

  • Read the numerator as a cardinal number. That is how many of the parts you have.
  • Then read the denominator as an ordinal number. If you have more than one part, the ordinal number is plural.

See these examples:

1/3 one-third

1/4 one-quarter

1/8 one-eighth

2/3 two-thirds

3/4 three-quarters

5/8 five-eighths

Special Names

Some fractions have special names:

1/1 = a whole

1/2 = a half

1/4 = a quarter (or a fourth)

Just Follow the Pattern

Except for 1/1, 1/2, and 1/4, fraction names follow the same pattern.

1/101 = one-one-hundred-first

2/101 = two-one-hundred-firsts

50/23 = fifty-twenty-thirds

You would probably never see unusual fractions such as the ones above. If you do, just say the numerator as a cardinal number and the denominator as an ordinal number.

Remember that the top number tells you how many of the smaller parts you have, so the bottom part can be singular or plural.



You often see fractions in recipes such as “1/2 tablespoon water” or “2/3 cup milk,” which you read as “half a tablespoon of water” and “two-thirds of a cup of milk.”

You also see fractions in technical writing. For example, you may see “1/4-inch nails” or “a 3/16-inch diameter,” but you read, “quarter-inch nails" and “a three-sixteenths inch diameter."

In other types of writing, you usually spell out the fraction. For example, you will almost always see “one-quarter of the population” or “two-thirds of the students.”


Decimals also represent fractions. For example, 1/4 (a quarter) is one divided by four. That gives you 0.25 (or .25), which is another way to express the fraction.

Reading Fractions

Reading decimals is very simple. You just read the numbers as cardinal numbers. You say “point” for the period separating the whole number from the decimal.

For decimals less than 1, you can write the zero or leave it out (0.3 = .3).


Note. In all the examples, you can say “zero” or “oh.”

0.1 zero point one

0.13 zero point one three

.13 point one three

.13 point thirteen

0.25 zero point twenty-five

.25 point twenty-five

.001 point oh oh one

3.05 three point oh five

π = 3.1415926535897932384626433832795…

π is pronounced /ˈpaɪ/.

It is the ratio of the circumference of any circle to the diameter of that circle. Its decimal goes on forever.



Practice 1. Reading fractions.

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