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Thank you, that will be 4 euros… or 4 Euro… or 4 Euros … or 4 euro…

Thank you, that will be 4 euros… or 4 Euro… or 4 Euros … or 4 euro…

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First things first, if your answer was “EUR 4”, you would have gone home with the prize! As well as the € symbol, the other official and correct way of referring to the European currency is indeed EUR placed before the number.

But for us mere mortals, the question remains, is it Euro or Euros and should we capitalise? In order to find an answer, the obvious avenue to explore was the European Commission translation department’s style guide. Surely, the European linguists would have the right end of the stick? And indeed, the style guide specifies 1 euro and 2 euros, so lower case with an -s! Perfect! Clear! Done!

Of course, things are never that simple. The European Commission actually adopt euro as the plural of euro but then rather bizarrely advise using the plural form – euros – for any publication intended for general publication. The underlying thought was to distinguish between Euro (all things relating to the European Union) and euro (the currency), although whether this has achieved clarity remains to be seen.

In other words, different spellings are accepted in documents other than EU legal texts, including national legislation, which in a certain way breaks the rules of English grammar. In English, you will have a one pound in your pocket, send an invoice for ten pounds but hold a ten-pound note in your hands. As an aside, currencies should never be capitalised in English. However tenders with the same singular and plural form are not unusual; i.e. yen is yen, baht is baht and so on.

But, back to euros! As a rule of thumb, Ireland, which is in the Eurozone, refers to 2 euro and 2 cent (without –s) whereas the UK will generally use the –s form i.e. 2 euros and 2 cents. Debate among linguists and their friends rages on and it seems many have ignored the EU language style guide in Ireland, wondering why the EU should dictate changes to the use of language.

Admittedly, it seems bizarre to have one official definition and then advise a different form for the general public. While the reason for this was no doubt noble, it has clouded the issue more than it has cleared it up. My recommendation would be to pick one side of the euro/euros debate and stick to it. Whatever you do, be consistent!

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