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Forty vs. Fourty

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips

It’s a common complaint among people who are learning English that the language lacks consistency. English was spoken in both the Old and New Worlds at a time when rapid communication across long distances was impossible, which has led to a differing and sometimes contradictory set of conventions. The same word can be spelled differently in American and British English, for instance. This duality can be confusing, but not every word has multiple spellings. Many people aren’t sure whether to write the number 40 as forty or fourty. It’s a common misconception that fourty is conventional in British English, while forty is the Americanized version. However, only one of these spellings is correct, regardless of region.


The word forty originated from Old English fēowertig.

Forty as number:

The word forty is used to represent a number equivalent to the product of four and ten; ten less than fifty; 40.

York was only forty miles away from there.

Forty also means the central North Sea between Scotland and southern Norway, so called from its prevailing depth of forty fathoms or more.

Use of forty:

Contrary to popular belief, there is only one correct spelling of the number 40. Forty is the proper way to spell the number, and fourty is always incorrect. It’s easy to see why this would be confusing, since the base number is four, and the U isn’t dropped from other numbers like fourteen or even forty-four.


Amanda ate forty hot dogs.

Melinda is forty-six years old.

Use of fourty:

You should never use fourty. It is an incorrect spelling of forty. Fourty is not correct in British or American English, and it appears to have never been the correct spelling. When writing out the number 40, forty is the only correct option. Although fourty is universally rejected, it still finds its way into the writing of those who should know better.


Fourty-five percent of Australians strongly agreed with the value proposition and two percent strongly disagreed. []

Fourty-nine stocks depreciated in price during the week, lower than the 58 of the preceding week. [Vanguard]

In a decade we’ll scream to the heavens asking why we paid fourty dollars for a dozen cupcakes, the same way people question their sanity after a flock of seagulls’ haircut. [Washington Examiner]

Fourty-two percent of voters want no cuts in programs for the poor. A year ago, that number was 51 percent. []

Forty or fourty:

While there are some words in English that have multiple spellings, forty isn’t one of them. Fourty is not a word, and forty is the only way to spell the written form of the number 40. The decision to use fourty or forty is therefore an easy one. Use the memory trick “forty is for everyone” to remember the proper spelling, or you can always refer back to this article.



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