Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Numbers are different over here. I’m not even talking about the metric system with its Celsius, kilos, grams, liters, deciliters, hectares, meters, etc. That will be another post. I mean the numbers themselves and how they are used are different.

Americans write the number “one” as a single line but then you can’t tell it from a lower case “L”. In Europe, a “1” has a long “flag” and it often looks like an inverted V.

The number “seven” has a line in the middle and sometimes has a crooked top line.

The number “nine” often looks like a lower case “G”.

No one here, except me I think, uses the pound sign “#” for number here.

Here decimals are commas and commas are decimals. In the U.S., “one and one-half” is written “1.50”. Here it is written as “1,50”.

When you count with your fingers, you start with your thumb.
If you hold up your index finger then people think you mean “two”. For “3” you hold up your thumb, index finger and middle finger. If you do it U.S.-style, with your thumb touching your pinky finger, then people here think you mean “4”.
The 24-hour clock is used in all official timetables. Sometimes a colon is used and sometimes a period is used. So you will see either 17:00 or 17.00 written for 5 o’clock p.m.

In Europe, dates are written as day then month; not month then day. Periods are used more often then slashes to separate the fields. So Christmas is 25.12.09 instead of 12/25/09.

Telephone numbers in Europe are just crazy! Every country has its own format. For example, here in Czech Republic the country code is +420, then you have a nine digit telephone number. But in some countries the telephone number is 5 digits and in some countries they have 13-digit numbers.

You dial “00” first to make an international call. Some countries have an extra zero in the number that you don’t need to dial when calling from another country. I don’t understand why the “extra zero” is there. I had to call a French mobile phone the other day so I had to remove the extra zero. However, the call still would not go through until I dialed “+” before the 00. I still don’t get how “+” is a number.


  1. I see, you are really confused. The telephone number in CZ have nine digits, not six :)

  2. Thanks Martiner. I actually knew it was nine digits; don't know why I wrote six. But I fixed it now. Thanks for catching my mistake and keeping me honest. =)

  3. It's interesting that US and Europe differ also in such small things. Even in counting by fingers...


  4. The + is all about telling the phone system you want to call somewhere international. It exists in North America, but is NEVER used; big global phone routing system with 1 as the country code.

    Not sure about the whole occasional 0 thing, it screwed me up for a while too.

    You did miss one other strange thing, especially in the UK, city codes! You have to add yet another 2- or 3-digits to the phone number, making it like 12- or 14-digits...

    The counting in fingers things is really good to know...gotta remember that one these days.