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What's the biggest number you know in your language? Do you have a word that isn't an actual number but means a really really big number? In this session we have some fun facts and figures about big numbers and also advice on how to pronounce and write them.

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Thousands and millions

One thousand

1,000 = a thousand, one thousand.

A millennium is a period of a thousand years.

Is a thousand a big number? It probably depends on who you are and what you are talking about. If it's the number of people at your birthday party, it probably is a big number. If it's the number of people who live in a town, it's probably not that big.

Here are some more facts, expressions and sayings related to the number 1,000.

In slang, £1,000 or $1,000 is known as a grand.

  • I found a bag in the park, it's got about ten grand in cash in it. What should I do with it?

In sports 1,000 metres is often referred to as a k.

  • I'm doing a 10k run for charity at the weekend.

Any difficult or long task has a starting point. As old Chinese proverb says:

  • A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Another saying is: 

  • A picture paints a thousand words.

This expression means that an image can be easier to understand and show more clearly something that might take a lot of time to express in writing. 

An expression which a parent might use before telling their children off:

  • If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times - no fighting in the car!

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Bigger numbers

10,000 = ten thousand (remember, NOT ten thousands)

  • It's just over ten thousand kilometres from London to Asunción.

100,000 = a hundred thousand

  • Our hearts beat approximately a hundred thousand times a day.

1,000,000 = a million

  • If you counted once a second without a break, it would take over 11 days to count to a million.

This is a phrase that's usually said as a joke, but can you work out why?

  • I've told you a million times - don't exaggerate!

Someone with cash or assets worth more than a million pounds or dollars is called a millionaire.

Who wants to be a millionaire? It's a quiz show, a song and also a sentence often used in English lessons on the conditional. If you were a millionaire, ... 

If someone or something is described as looking like a million dollars, it means they or it look very smart and attractive. 

  • Wow, nice suit, you look like a million dollars.

You can also feel like a million dollars when you are feeling very healthy.

  • All I needed was a good night's sleep. I feel like a million dollars now.

Someone or something that is one in a million is very special, rare or unique. 

  • She's so kind, she's one in a million, always ready to help others.

To do

See if you can use some of these big number expressions in our quiz.

Thousands and millions

5 Questions

In each question choose the best option to complete the sentence.

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In the next activity, find out about even bigger numbers and try our fun quiz about number facts.

Session Vocabulary

  • Number expressions


    a millennium = a thousand years

    a grand = slang for a $1,000 or £1,000

    k = kilometre (a thousand metres)

    A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

    A picture paints a thousand words.


    a millionaire

    to look like a million dollars

    to feel like a million dollars

    to be one in a million