# How to read a decimal number in Spanish?

I'm generating a module which transforms numbers into reading in Spanish.

I found a similar question and read the answer, so I know 0,25 is read like below "cero coma veinticinco"

In addition, I got a tip about how the role of comma(,) and dot(.) is switched when writing a number, compared with English.

Here are my questions:

1. If I want to write "one thousand dot two" by number in Spanish, do I have to write like `1.000,2` in all case? Never `1,000.2`?
2. Secondly, Decimal part is read like reading an integer? For example, `0,25` needs to be read "cero coma veinticinco"? And not "cero coma dos cinco"? If so, how to read this? `3.1415926535` "tres coma mil cuatrocientos quince millones novecientos veintiséis mil quinientos treinta y cinco"???
3. Finally, if a number less than 0, how to read the "minus" character? If I just put "menos" before read a number part, is that right? For example, `-0,25` is "menos cero coma veinticinco?"
• To answer question 1, it depends on the country. The '.' decimal separator is common in some North, Central & South American Spanish speaking countries.
– Carl
Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 2:17
• Querying the locale settings will tell you which is the thousands separator symbol and what is the decimal symbol, then you can parse or write the numbers accordingly. To read the number into prose text, you have the option of saying "cero coma veinticinco" or "cero punto veinticinco" according to the locale or perhaps use the also common "cero CON veinticinco". E.g. it's very common to write cheques as "doce con setenta y cinco Euros/Pesos/Bolívares/What have you" Commented Oct 28, 2013 at 12:30
• There is a function in Windows that will tell you whether the local decimal separator is comma or period. I don't remember what it is. And of course, your local administrator has to configure things correctly. Commented Oct 28, 2013 at 18:50
• One tip: Spanish is simple, just read what you see "menos cero coma veinticinco", just what you see. If you regard pi as 3.1415926 you can read "catorce quince nueve dos seis", or you can group them in the usual way you read it". Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 14:58

Well, I'm not a Spanish grammar expert but hopefully this can help you:

1. Unfortunately it depends on the country. Some countries use comma (,) and others dot (.).

In Spain, South America and parts of Central America, the comma and period are used the opposite of the way they are in American English. Thus 123,456,789.01 in English becomes 123.456.789,01 in most areas where Spanish is used. However, in Mexico, Puerto Rico and parts of Central America, the convention used in U.S. English is followed. Using the Comma in Spanish

2. I will never use the complete integer for long numbers like `3.1415926535`. Instead I'll use "tres punto catorce quince noventa y dos sesenta y cinco treinta y cinco" or even "tres punto uno cuatro uno cinco....".
3. You are right, `-0.25` will be "menos cero punto veinticinco".

• Thanks for kind answer. then, about question #2, It seems like there are two kinds of expression for decimal in Spanish. Can I know which way is common for decimal? reading each two numbers or each number?
– user1634805
Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 2:43
• I think for long numbers (4 or more digits), will be easier to understand reading each 2 numbers. e.g. 3.25 => tres punto veinticinco 3.253 => tres punto docientos cincuenta y tres 3.2538=> tres punto veinticinco treinta y ocho
– estebane97
Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 3:02
• Then, if the number of digits in decimal part is odd number(e.g. 3.25387), how can i separate the digits by couple? from the begining? So, "3.25387" can be read like "tres punto veinticinco treinta y ocho siete"?
– user1634805
Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 3:27
• Yes I'll read it like this
– estebane97
Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 23:00

RAE's Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas has a good article on how to write and pronounce numbers. In what regards your question:

1. To separate the integer and decimal parts you should use a comma, but a decimal dot is also admitted (section 2 c) in the article).
2. Actually, the appropriate character to separate groups of three digits is the space (section 2 a)), with some exceptions (section 2 b)). Nevertheless, you will see a dot or a comma (the one not used for separating the decimal part) quite frequently.
3. The article does not mention, unfortunately, how to pronounce the decimal part of a number. As a simple rule, I would recommend to pronounce the numbers one by one, unless there are less than three digits in the decimal part (e.g.: 3,25€, 4,37%, 9,364 kg would be tres con veinticinco euros, cuatro coma treinta y site por ciento and nueve coma tres seis cuatro kilos, respectively; if you use a decimal dot, use punto instead of coma).
4. The - sign is always pronounced menos at the beginning of a number, excepting when you are reading a temperature; in this case, you will usually say bajo cero at the end (e.g.: -4,7°C is read cuatro coma siete grados bajo cero).
1. By SI standard, regardless of country you should always write `1 000,2`, that is, the thousands separator should be any kind of spacing character, and the decimal separator a comma. Some people use a dot and that's accepted, too. RAE's statement about this.
2. You may use whichever way you prefer, in any case. I would pronounce π (3.1415926535...) as

tres coma catorce quince nueve dos seis cinco tres cinco

Now, according to this link (with help of this other one), you should pronounce π as

tres unidades, mil cuatrocientos quince millones novecientos veintiséis mil quinientos treinta y cinco billonésimas

but this is far less practical than writing just the number and people will understand you if you just pronounce π as I quoted first. You may only need to "pronounce" as I quoted second in legal documents and other formal writings that require you to refrain from writing numbers.

& 3. Yes, that's how you pronounce it.

• The RAE link does not work, try lema.rae.es/dpd/?key=números. On the other hand, pronouncing tres unidades, mil cuatrocientos quince millones... is useful only if you want people to look at you with very wide opened eyes. Commented Oct 28, 2013 at 12:20

The decimal coma is the ISO standard and the prefered method in most Spanish speaking countries (notable exception Mexico, where the decimal dot is prefered), however the dot is very common everywhere.

In informal contexts, grouping decimals by two or even by three is common. For example: 0,5; 0,25; 0,125; 0,0625; 0,03125 I would normally read as cero coma cinco, cero coma veinticinco, cero coma ciento veinticinco, cero coma cero seis veinticinco, cero coma cero tres ciento veinticinco; however in formal (prescribistic) contexts you should never group.

My reading of π (3,1415926535...) would normally be: tres coma catorce quince noventa y dos sesenta y cinco treinta y cinco etcétera.

If I want to write "one thousand dot two" by number in Spanish, do I have to write like 1.000,2 in all case? Never 1,000.2?

It depends on the country, for example:

• In Spain, you'll always see 1.000'2
• In Mexico will be seen as 1,000.2

Secondly, Decimal part is read like reading an integer? For example, 0,25 needs to be read "cero coma veinticinco"? And not "cero coma dos cinco"? If so, how to read this? 3.1415926535 "tres coma mil cuatrocientos quince millones novecientos veintiséis mil quinientos treinta y cinco"???

Even if there's no rule for this, children are taught to group numbers in pair in those situations, so Pi would be read as "Tres coma catorce quince noventa y dos seseinta y cinco (...)"

Finally, if a number less than 0, how to read the "minus" character? If I just put "menos" before read a number part, is that right? For example, -0,25 is "menos cero coma veinticinco?"

You're right, reading a negative number is always "Menos X" where X is the number itself, ie "Menos cero coma veinticinco"