Proper English question

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by line6man, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. Occasionally, when I have a conversation with someone via instant message, I will want to type an exclamatory sentence ending with a digit number. For example, "I'll be back at 5!" In mathematics, a number with an exclamation point means to take the factorial of that number, so I usually put a space between the digit and the exclamation point, so that it will look proper to me, and not be ambiguous. (Even though most people don't even know what a factorial is.) Is there a proper way to express these kind of sentences in a clear way? I suppose something like "...five!" instead of "...5!" would be best, but what if I still want to use a digit instead of the word for the number? For that matter, is it improper to end a sentence with a digit?

    It's been a while since I've studied grammar, but I don't remember ever being taught this. :hyper:
  2. I don't know a lot about math, but I know enough about grammar to say I'm pretty sure inserting a number in place of a letter is improper. If you're using it to refer to time then I believe to be proper you have to write it out in full, i.e., 5:00.
  3. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Lacey, WA
    I learned to spell out any number under 10. For time of day, I would do as bassinplace, and write it out.

  4. slobake

    slobake resident ... something Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2011
    San Franciscco, CA
    The AP Stylebook says you should spell out any number less than ten. The AP Stylebook is the standard for American Journalists. I don't know if it would apply to your situation.
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  6. DerHoggz

    DerHoggz I like cats :| Banned

    Feb 13, 2009
    Western Pennsylvania
    "I'll be back at five o'clock!"

    Although o'clock is a shortened version of "of the clock" I think it is generally accepted as proper.
  7. I'm not just talking about things like the time of day. Other sentences arise, as well. For example "****! Look on page 391!" Or "You only sent me 3!"
  8. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Supporting Member

    Written prose is not mathematical notation, so there's nothing improper about punctuation after a digit. No one is going to mistake your sentence for an equation.
  9. ZenG


    Dec 13, 2013
    Is there a number for "umpteenth"?
  10. zortation


    Dec 26, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    2 + 2 = 5, if you use really big twos.
  11. Duuuuuuuuuude


    Nov 30, 2005
    "I'll be back at 5:00!"
  12. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    In any academic writing, this is correct. It adds clarity to any writing, and therefore I recommend it to you...especially since the OP is asking for a way to enhance clarity of communication.
  13. fmoore200


    Mar 22, 2011
    Why do you yell so much? :bag:
  14. DerHoggz

    DerHoggz I like cats :| Banned

    Feb 13, 2009
    Western Pennsylvania
    That could be construed as 5:01. (0!=1)
  15. Easy, stop any and all communication with everyone and move into the mountains. Problem solved.
  16. Try

    "Forsooth, I shall return at the second bell of the dog watch!"
  17. It depends on the context. For example, if you were a teacher who got an email from a student, asking why he/she didn't get credit for a test problem, it would look a bit silly if you said "That's a 1? It looks like a 7!"
  18. I learned my numbers from Sesame Street.

    One two three four five, six seven eight nine ten, eleven twelve. TWELVE!!

  19. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    Chicago Manual of Style, innit.
  20. f.c.geil

    f.c.geil Supporting Member

    May 12, 2011
    Spell out the number, unless it is time, then use the standard time notation for your country/job. If you still want to use a simple numeral to designate time, perhaps adding the a.m. or p.m. would clarify for you.
  21. Why not simply use a full stop instead of an exclamation mark?

    "I'll be there at 5." instead of "I'll be there at 5!"

    Ambiguity maths/prose gone.