# How To Read Decimals Like a Pro Decimals let us show values between whole numbers. We use these fractional numbers every day to do thing such as read money, read distances, and to bake cakes. They are so important to our lives that just about everything we have was created using math that included decimal numbers. They may be important numbers, but they can all be difficult to read, even by mathematicians. The trick is to understand that decimals are just another way to write fractions, and with this relationship you will know how to read decimals.

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## What are Fractions and Decimals?

Decimals are fractions, and you must understand how to read fractions before you can know how to read decimals. Fractions are ratios between two whole numbers separated by a line. These two numbers are called the numerator and denominator. The numerator is the first number and it represents the number of stuff you have while the second number, the denominator, tells us how much make the whole. They help us express values we cannot represent as whole numbers such as half (1/2) and quarter (1/4). We can also combine them with whole numbers to create mixed number such as 346¾. We read fractions by reading the numerator followed by the denominator with a “ths” placed after the denominator. For example, we read 345¾ as three hundred forty-five and three fourths. Please note that we use the word “and” to separate the whole number from the decimal. Also note that if the numerator is 1, we usually drop the “s” at the end as in one tenth for 1/10.

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## Decimals are fractions

We can use mixed numbers to express any value in the world. We even use 0 with any denominator if we want or need to turn any whole number into a mixed number. However, fractions have their limitations. You are probably quite familiar with how difficult it is to write fractions on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Fortunately, we can use decimals instead.

Decimals let us save space when writing fractions. They streamline and simplify math by using the same rules we use for whole numbers instead of the ones we use for fractions. We write decimals as a single number following a period. The period denotes that we have a decimal after it and is called the decimal point. If we don’t have a whole number, we usually write a 0 in front of the decimal point.

Technically, we don’t have mixed numbers when we deal with decimals. We have rational and irrational numbers instead. Rational numbers are numbers we can write as fractions. We write 346¾ as a rational number as 346.75. Irrational numbers are numbers we cannot express as fractions.

We write these numbers using the decimal numbering system which represents numbers using combinations of these ten symbols, called digits: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. For example, we can combine the digits 5 and 7 to create the number 57. Each digit in a number represents the power of 10 we need to multiply that digit to put it in that place. The exponent of this power of ten represents the number of places between our digit and the decimal point. Whole numbers use positive exponents while decimals use negative exponents.

For example:

3598.726

3 is in the +3 position from the decimal point as its power of ten is 103 or 1000.

5 is +2 with 102 or 100 as its power of ten.

9 is +1 with 101 or 10 as its power of ten.

8 is in the 0 position with 100 or 1 as the power of ten.

7 is in the -1 position with the power of ten 1/10 or 10-1.

2 is in the -2 position with the power of ten 1/100 or 10-2.

6 is in the -3 position with the power of ten 1/1000 or 10-3.

These powers of 10 are how we read decimals.

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