Decimalisation of years

(37 Posts)
Londonmrss Sun 03-Feb-13 16:20:32

People on mumsnet like to day things like "My son is 2.7 years old."
Are they being incredibly precise and have worked out that their child is 2 years and 256 days, which happens to be 0.7 of a year? Or do they mean 2 years and 7 months and they have no understanding of what a decimal point is? This REALLY annoys me.

Phew. It felt good to finally say it.

VinegarDrinker Sun 03-Feb-13 16:24:36

Oooh I'm a newbie and I've been wondering this. I say 23 months or nearly 2. Writing 1.11 would just be wrong!

Jux Sun 03-Feb-13 16:41:10

I spent a long time wondering this a few years ago grin but realsed - after a while - that life was too short.

Then I 'made a decision' that they meant 2 y 7m and didn't worry about it again (though every so often, I see it and do a mental double take).

FWIW, I suspect most don't do decimals. Watch out though, as I'm sure there are some that do, and if you get it wrong......

Fenouille Sun 03-Feb-13 16:44:39

I don't like it either but as it seems to be the standard way of expressing age on here I finally gave in today and used it for the first time while tutting at myself under my breath

But then I also work somewhere where people use 17.7inches and the like. That really does make me itch.

AdriftAndOutOfStardust Sun 03-Feb-13 16:56:36

calm down and lighten up a bit. I have plenty of advanced qualifications demonstrating that I am fully able to understand the proper use of the decimal point. However, this is just an online forum and most of us only have a few mins snatched from when we are supposed to be doing something more productive to write our posts so we have developed useful abbreviations. We know that 99% of the people who read what we type will know that when we write "3.7yo DS" we are referred to a darling son who is 3 years and 7 months old - it's an accepted shorthand and scientific accuracy isn't particularly important in this context. I would probably be happy to use the shorthand at 3.10yo but would agree that 3.11 might look a bit odd so would be more likely to write "nearly 4" for those 30 days.

They are using the decimal point to denote "and some fraction", in the same way that people write 2.30 for a time - it isn't two hours and 0.3 of an hour, we all know what it means. In the case of time, it's a convention that you mean "and x 60ths" after what looks just like a decimal poin. On here it's a cnvention that it means "and x months".

Just one of the lovely ways in which language adapts grin

plantsitter Sun 03-Feb-13 16:59:43

I have wondered this before. But if you say it's 10.33 you mean it's 33 minutes past 10 not 10 and a third. So I think of it like that (however I do try to advise using it in threads).

VinegarDrinker Sun 03-Feb-13 17:04:05

Surely it takes almost no longer (and is considerably more accurate) to type 2y4m than 2.4 though?

Ah well I expect I'll get used to it (and the obligatory D's) soon!

AdriftAndOutOfStardust Sun 03-Feb-13 17:11:00

Feel free to type 2y4m if you wish, no-one will moan or correct you. It's just that 2.4 would be understood to mean the same in a mumsnet context.
I promise that if I were writing an academic paper on some scientific subject requiring reference to the age of a small child I would use a different notation.

Londonmrss Sun 03-Feb-13 17:29:05

What if someone says 2.5 years? What do they mean?

I'm thinking a metric calendar and a metric clock would be easier for me to deal with. Now just need too change the gravitational pull off the sun etc...

WMittens Sun 03-Feb-13 21:15:13

If it's used in the context of 2y7m, it is not a decimal point, it is a* radix point and is correct notation. To be accurate it is a base-12 radix point; would that be called a dodecimal point?

*Or, another type of

SanityClause Sun 03-Feb-13 21:18:07

This is used by health professionals, not just on Mumsnet.

Perhaps you need to get out more? wink

Londonmrss Sun 03-Feb-13 21:19:57

Fair point Sanity!

CitrusyOne Sun 03-Feb-13 21:24:44

Re: time, I always thought it was a : not a .

So 2:30, not 2.30

Meaning 30 minutes past two?

Rather than a decimal point......

MortifiedAdams Sun 03-Feb-13 21:27:01

I use 1.1 to mean DD is one year and one month old. I don't think of it as a decimal point, more as an implied indication of "years and months".

And I would much rather see someone refer to their son as 3.3 than 39 months which I do think is a bit wankerish.

VinegarDrinker Sun 03-Feb-13 21:29:29

Sanity I've never seen it prior to MN and am a HCP (though not in paeds)

I used it a lot in my BA in Early Years, it is the current shorthand way childcare professionals denote child ages, certainly in all the literature I read for the course.

VinegarDrinker Sun 03-Feb-13 22:14:41

Fair enough

VinegarDrinker Sun 03-Feb-13 22:17:01

Fair enough smile

VinegarDrinker Sun 03-Feb-13 22:17:56

InMySpareTime meant to ask, in thqt usage does it go up to 2.11?

Alibabaandthe40nappies Sun 03-Feb-13 22:19:26

This used to annoy me when I first joined MN, but have taken to using it jut for ease.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Sun 03-Feb-13 22:19:43


Londonmrss Sun 03-Feb-13 22:59:35

this one goes to eleven...

CaseyShraeger Sun 03-Feb-13 23:08:48

It's no different from using the notation DC, DD, DS or DH, IMO (oh, there's another one), or writing 37+5 to refer to stage of pregnancy (are you going to start another thread to the effect of "Are they '43 pregnant' or do they have no understanding of what a plus sign means?"?). You wouldn't do it in normal speech or writing, but it's fine on the Internet.

CaseyShraeger Sun 03-Feb-13 23:09:29

(or in technical publications)

VinegarDrinker Sun 03-Feb-13 23:39:49

Well 37+5 is acceptable and commonly used medical abbreviation (except it should be 37+5/40), so not exactly the same as using DH!

And I have learned this evening that 2.6 etc is apparently accepted and in common usage in early childhood education academic circles. Every day is a school day.

Londonmrss Mon 04-Feb-13 05:45:10

For me, saying 35 + 4. about pregnancy length implies '35 weeks plus 4 days' so I can handle that. Saying 2.7 years implies '2 point 7 years' and I immediately, without even thinking about it, begin to try and work out what 0.7 of a year is.

It is obviously a personal taste thing in that case. Some of you have given legitimate and rational arguments as to why it is not in fact incorrect, but frankly I still find it annoying.

It's like when I get my baby weighed and they tell me she is 6kg, but then someone asks me what that is in lb. I know that there are 2.2lb in a kg so it's easy enough to work out that she is 13.2lb. But then they assume I mean 13lb2oz which is obviously not true.
Does it matter?- I hear you ask! Obviously not, I probably should get out more. Maybe I am some sort of numbers genius / crazy person like that John Nash fellow. Our possibly just a sleep-deprived mother of a 3 month old...

In Early Years literature, it does go up to 11smile.
The EYFS (and more recently Development Matters) are more likely to use "35 months" as it fits their age banded groups better, but the training literature case studies would say "2.11"

somebloke123 Mon 04-Feb-13 13:54:34

I suppose if the calendar brought in after the French Revolution had prevailed there wouldn't be this problem. They divided the year into 10 months. The only one whose name I can remember is Thermidor.

WMittens Mon 04-Feb-13 19:58:46


There were still 12 months, but they were 30 days each, and contained 3 10-day weeks.

jaynebxl Tue 05-Feb-13 05:56:25

A year clearly is not base ten but base 12 so I don't mind someone writing 3.11 or whatever as we all know what they mean.

lougle Tue 05-Feb-13 07:43:25

In this case the . is a demarcation, not a decimal point. Just as imperial uses 5'5", for example.

somebloke123 Tue 05-Feb-13 11:13:41

Thanks WMittens - I stand corrected.

cumfy Mon 11-Feb-13 19:59:00

And people wondered why we bought in SI units.grin

WMittens Mon 11-Feb-13 20:32:35

And people wondered why we bought in SI units.

Was it because they were on special offer?

cumfy Mon 11-Feb-13 22:00:34

Just testing Mittens.blush

Trills Mon 11-Feb-13 22:03:14

If I write that I am 5'11 tall, are you upset that I am using an apostrophe? Or do you realise that it's just an indicator of " 5 somethings and 11 something-elses"?

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