Spoken English adapts to people’s choices much faster than written English because people bend the spoken language to make it easier to speak.

My vote for pronouncing the next years of the century are as follows:

  • 2010 = twenty ten
  • 2052 = twenty fifty-two
  • 2099 = twenty ninety-nine

The only years when there was a deviation from the above “rule” were from 2000 and 2009 when you ended up saying something you didn’t mean if you left out the “thousand.” For example…

  • 2000 = Twenty zero? No. Twenty O O? Both are awkward. Two thousand is accurate and easy to pronounce.
  • 2001 = Twenty one? No. Twenty and one? Both would be 21. Twenty O one? Accurate, but it never caught on. Two thousand one? That’s the one that made it into the vernacular.
  • 2005 = Twenty aught five? My grandpa always told me he graduated from college in “nineteen aught four.” But “aught” never made it past the early 1900’s, and today we use “O” or “zero” when the old-timers would have used “aught.”

So we accepted “two thousand three,” “two thousand four,” and so on up to the current time when we are dealing with 2010.

Just because it’s my vote, doesn’t mean it’s the rule. People will pronounce the years until the next century however they choose, and the majority will decide the form we use.

Language is a perfect democracy.

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