Accessibility links

Breaking News

Writing Feedback: Large Numbers

Writing Feedback: Large Numbers
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:06:11 0:00

In last week’s Everyday Grammar, we explored large numbers in the news. We learned about numbers such as a million, a billion, and a trillion. We asked our listeners and readers to write us messages about their countries.

Today we give feedback on some of the messages we received.

We will learn some ideas about English grammar. We will also learn a little about the world around us.


Let’s start our lesson with Afghanistan.

An unnamed VOA Learning English fan wrote us two sentences about Afghanistan – both involving the large number 40 million.

The writer uses afs, which is the plural short form for the Afghan currency, the Afghani.

UN announces $40 million aid for Afghan government.

Every year, Afghan government spends almost 40 million afs in education section.

We suggest adding a few elements to the first sentence. We can use the article “the” in several places. We can also include the short word “in.” Here is one way we might update the sentence:

The UN announced $40 million in aid for the Afghan government.

In the second sentence, we might change the final noun. Instead of “section,” we might use “sector” which suggests a field of the economy.

Here is one way we might update the sentence:

Every year, the Afghan government spends almost 40 million afs for the education sector.


Now let’s turn to a message about Turkey.

Here is what Emre wrote:

People love to share their knowledge and ideas. Everyday, 4 millions of blog have been written, 80 million photos have been shared on Instagram and 616 millions twits which is meaning 7,1 thousand twits per second have been posted on cyber space on earth planet.

Emre wrote an excellent message. We particularly liked the first sentence. This is a great way to introduce an idea.

We suggest organizing the rest of the paragraph so that the structures are parallel. We could change the verb form to the present.

We also might slightly change some wording. For example, instead of saying “4 millions of blogs,” we might instead say “4 million blogposts.”

Here is one way to update the message:

Every day, 4 million blogposts are written, 80 million photos are shared on Instagram and 616 million Tweets are posted - a rate of 7,100 tweets per second.

Czech Republic

Next, we read part of a message from Lukáš in the Czech Republic.

Lukáš wrote one sentence for each large number – a million, a billion, and a trillion. We enjoyed how Lukáš used a wonderful verb – hover. It means to hang over a point or to move around over a place.

Here are the sentences:

The population of the Czech Republic has been hovering around 10 million for many decades.

Billions of Czech crowns are sent every month to seniors for their pensions.

Our country is too small to have a trillion of anything.

While the Czech Republic may be too small to have a trillion of anything, we imagine that millions – if not billions – of people would love to visit it!


Let’s end with a message from Japan. Ishi wrote:

On New Year's Day this year, a major earthquake struck the Noto Peninsula, located in northern Japan. The total damage is estimated at $16.6 billion.

Ishi’s writing is excellent.

We would offer a couple ways of changing the sentence so that it contains the same information. Our suggestions relate to style and not the substance of the first sentence.

One choice would be this:

On New Year's Day this year, a major earthquake struck the Noto Peninsula in northern Japan.

Another choice would be this:

On New Year's Day this year, a major earthquake struck northern Japan’s Noto Peninsula.

Closing thoughts

We were impressed by all the wonderful messages we received. We were not able to use all of them in this lesson, but some of them might make appearances in future lessons.

If you have any questions or comments, please send us an email at

I’m John Russell.

John Russell wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

article –n. (grammar) a group of small words that modify nouns identifying them as definite or indefinite

feedback – n. helpful information that is given to someone to say what can be done to improve something

parallel – adj. involving very similar grammatical structures

decade n. a period of 10 years

pension – n. an amount of money that a company or the government pays to a person who no longer works

style –n. a particular way of doing something like writing or wearing clothes