Is there some documentation on correct ways of reading numbers in narration context — when reading aloud from a fiction book?

  • 1,4 m = Eins Komma vier Meter/ein Meter vierzig
  • 2,8 Meter = Zwei Komma acht Meter/zwei Meter achtzig

I specifically left out anything ",5" to keep it simpler without "~einhalb" forms of reading.

I can't find anything, all I get are results on how to correctly read Voltmeters, courses on how to read well, how to read with kids.

  • 2
    Do I understand the question right? You seem to know the answer (because all of your own examples are correct), so you're not looking for explanations, but for an "official" source of rules? The header and the text seem to be different questions.
    – HalvarF
    Dec 19, 2022 at 17:21
  • I don't know if there is a rule. When it's written 1,4 m, I personally would prefer "Eins Komma vier Meter". For 1,40 m it would depend on the context.
    – Bodo
    Dec 19, 2022 at 17:59

3 Answers 3


You basically state both possible and correct answers in your question. There is no guide when to use which version - both do make sense. Mind though that you can use the "Ein Meter fünfundsiebzig" version only with metres and no other unit of length. One can only use it to specify centimetre accuracy of "usual" objects (or subjects).

If there need to be one, then I'd read in a list environment where I do compare the numbers more the "Zwei Komma acht Meter Pinienholz; drei Komma vier fünf neun Meter Fichtenholz; ..." while within a text where only one number is mentioned I probably would choose "Zwei Meter achtzig", especially when it refers to usual heights like that of people, rooms or such.


Both variants are correct. In everyday language the variant "ein Meter vierzig" seems to be more popular, and many people even say "eins vierzig" if it is clear from the context that it is a length. The question "Wie groß bist Du?" would normally be answered by "eins neunundsiebzig" and not by "eins Komma sieben neun Meter". However, in a scientific context one would rather use the formal "eins Komma sieben neun Meter".

Similar informal expressions like "ein Meter vierzig" or "eins vierzig" are also used for amounts of money:

  • Das kostet einen Euro dreißig
  • Das macht eins dreißig

I am not aware of other units than "Meter" and "Euro (or any other currency main unit)" where the decimal comma is replaced by the name of the unit and the decimal places are appended in form of a numeral between 1 and 99. In the currency case this may be motivated by the fact that "Euro" has the subunit "Cent" (1 Euro = 100 Cent). The length case is different: "Meter" has many subunits like "Dezimeter, Centimeter, Millimeter, ...", but for some reason the subunit "Centimeter" plays a special role in language use.

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    Pausiere das Video bei 1 Minute 37 und schau Dir die Tapete an! (Selten: "bei 1 Minute 98"). Ähnlich: "Wir sehen uns 17 Uhr 30". Mar 21 at 3:37
  • 1
    @userunknown Guter Kommentar! Kleiner Unterschied: Zeitangaben werden nicht mit Dezimalkomma geschrieben, sondern meistens mit Doppelpunkt (1:37, 17:30). Die Gemeinsamkeit überwiegt aber. Es gibt eine Haupteinheit (z.B. Minute) und eine Untereinheit (z.B. Sekunde). Mar 21 at 10:56

The answers above already covered most of the topic. However I'd like to add that craftsmen often convert all lengths into milimeters for manufacturing purposes, especially if most lengths are < 1m. So a german craftsman might say:

Dieses Brett muss auf Vierhundertfünzig zu Sechhundertsiebzig zugeschnitten werden

This board has to be cut to 450 to 670

Meaning that the board should be 450mm x 670mm in the end

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