Billion vs billón

AC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Billion vs billón

My understanding is that in Spanish, “un billón” represents a different quantity from “a billion”in English, and this should not be directly translated, but is rather the same as “mil millón.” 

Is my info wrong? Can there be regional variation?

Asked 3 months ago
DavidC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributorCorrect answer

Several decades ago, a 'billion' in British English was a 'million million'; i.e. 10^12. In the USA, however, it was [only] a thousand million; 10^9. Since then the British version has gradually lost the battle [initially in Canada and Australia, but now even in the UK] - such that few if any people stick to the old interpretation. However, what A says is true - there is still confusion when it is heard in continental Europe; i.e., in Spanish "un billón" is indeed 10^12 - but because science is dominated by the English language, Spaniards always find it necessary to emphasise that they really do mean 10^12. The same is true when speaking French, German and Italian; in these latter countries too it is 10^12 ... Thus, the Kwiziq 'large numbers' site does need to be modified to reflect this fact.

DavidC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

[^Has now been done;Thank you Inma !]

Billion vs billón

My understanding is that in Spanish, “un billón” represents a different quantity from “a billion”in English, and this should not be directly translated, but is rather the same as “mil millón.” 

Is my info wrong? Can there be regional variation?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Ask a question

Find your Spanish level for FREE

Test your Spanish to the CEFR standard

Find your Spanish level
I'll be right with you...