﻿ How Many Zeros in a Trillion
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Units of Measure / How Many Zeros in a Trillion

# How Many Zeros in a Trillion

It may look pretty funny to some people, but there are two answers to the question about how many zeroes are in a trillion, and they both are right ones. Do you wonder how it can be? The fact of the matter is that there two scales which give different definitions of the trillion. The short scale is common for Americans and British, and the long one is used in many non-English speaking countries.

So, you have to remember the following:

• According to the short scale1, there are twelve zeroes in one trillion (1,000,000,000,000)
• According to the long scale2, there are eighteen zeroes in one trillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000)

Differences between these two scales start from a billion, because lower numbers are all the same in them (a hundred, a thousand, a million). In the short scale a billion is equal to 109, but in the long one it is 1012. Of course, it influences higher numbers.

These scales were first used by Genevieve Guitel, a famous French mathematician. The chart below will help you to memorize the distinctions.

Short Scale
Long Scale
A million
1 000 000
1 000 000
A billion
1 000 000 000
1 000 000 000 000
A trillion
1 000 000 000 000
1 000 000 000 000 000 000

In many countries the term “milliard” is in common use for denoting the nine zero number.

Some Interesting Facts about a Trillion

It is not easy to imagine what a trillion means. Read the following examples (we use the short scale trillion), and you will fancy it more clearly:
• You would need almost two trillion pennies, if you decided to fill the famous Empire State Building with them.
• If you had one trillion dollars and spent one million an hour, it would take 411 years to spend all the money.
• One trillion seconds ago there was no Western civilization in the world.

We hope, now you understand how much a trillion is. This is what one trillion dollars in 0 bills looks like. Do you see the man, standing in the left near corner of the picture?
1. The short scale (from French échelle courte) is a system of large number naming. According to the short scale, starting from million, every number is one thousand times the previous number. E.g. billion is a thousand millions.
2. The long scale (from French échelle longue) is a system of large number naming. According to the long scale, starting from million, every number is one million times the previous number. E.g. billion is a million millions.
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