# Proper English question

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

1. ### line6man

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.

2. ### bassinplace

Dec 1, 2008
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. ### MJ5150Terrific 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.

-Mike

4. ### slobakeresident ... somethingSupporting Member

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.

5. ### DerHoggzI 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.

6. ### line6man

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!"

7. ### hrodbert696ModeratorStaff MemberSupporting 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.

8. ### ZenG

Dec 13, 2013
Near the fridge
Is there a number for "umpteenth"?

9. ### zortation

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

10. ### 48thStreetCustom

Nov 30, 2005
Connecticut
"I'll be back at 5:00!"

11. ### PilgrimSupporting 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.

12. ### fmoore200

Mar 22, 2011
NYC
Why do you yell so much?

13. ### DerHoggzI like cats :|Banned

Feb 13, 2009
Western Pennsylvania
That could be construed as 5:01. (0!=1)

14. ### ShredderMaximus

Easy, stop any and all communication with everyone and move into the mountains. Problem solved.

15. ### Tegzsa

Oct 23, 2005
The Back End of Beyond
Try

"Forsooth, I shall return at the second bell of the dog watch!"

16. ### line6man

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!"

17. ### line6man

I learned my numbers from Sesame Street.

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

18. ### knumbskull

Jul 28, 2007
UK
Chicago Manual of Style, innit.

19. ### f.c.geil

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.

20. ### caligula

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.