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Punctuation for Currency

Photographs of terribly mistaken signs from shops all over the country appear online, provoking great laughter and embarrassment when a manager discovers that rather than offering bananas for ten cents each, he is offering bananas for one-tenth of a cent each. What a bargain!

INCORRECT

  • We are selling pens today for.90¢.
  • I paid 4,000$ for my used car.
  • 99¢ almost equals a single penny.

CORRECT

Our main symbols for currency are the dollar symbol ($), the cents symbol (¢), and the decimal point (.). The dollar sign appears before the amount: $15.25. The trouble begins when we deal with amounts of less than a dollar. You may write $0.99 or 99¢, both of which mean 99 cents. Any sum with a decimal point and a ¢, however, signifies less than a penny.

MORE TO KNOW

It helps to be aware of other currencies. Internationally, the US dollar is written as USD20 / US$20. The euro (€20) is in use in most of Europe, the pound (£20) is specific to the United Kingdom, and the yen (¥20) is used in Japan. In each case, we speak the number first (twenty) followed by the currency (dollars, euros, pounds, yen, etc.).

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