Mathematical English: Powers


Non-native speakers often struggle when they have to speak about powers. For example, the correct expression used for 10^3 is “ten to the power of three“, although it is common to instead use the shorter form “ten to the three“. Similarly, x^7 is “x to the (power of) seven“. The exponents 2 and 3 (can you think of other examples?) have special names: x^2 is “x squared“, x^3 is “x cubed“. A confusing yet common mistake is to say “ten to three” (which refers to the time of day 2:50) instead of “ten to the three“. If the exponent is negative, for example 10^{-3}, the correct expression is “10 to the (power of) minus three“, but not “10 to the (power of) negative three“. Finally, the correct form for e^x is either “exponential function of x” or, much shorter, “e to the (power of) x“.


One thought on “Mathematical English: Powers

  1. Mathematical English: How to pronounce Gaussian – painfulenglish

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