How to pronounce 'GB'?

21

2

If I want to buy a phone with 64 GB, how should I say it?

Should I say

"A phone with 64 gigabyte."

or

"A phone with 64 GB (simply pronounce the letter 'G' and 'B')."

which one is more native?

柴玮杰

Posted 2017-01-25T22:05:26.123

Reputation: 329

15A "sixty-four gig" phone. – Andrew – 2017-01-25T22:17:10.043

464 gigabytes of what? Say "A phone with 64 gigabytes of storage". Just saying "A phone with 64 GB" is like saying "a car with 20 liters" -- you'd want to add "of fuel capacity" or "gas tank". – DepressedDaniel – 2017-01-26T03:21:18.177

5@DepressedDaniel eeh, I'd say a 16 GB phone - that's not going to refer to anything else. – Tim – 2017-01-26T07:48:16.067

3It may be worth noting that in “gigabyte”, both ‘g’s are pronounced the same way, like in “garden”, and not like in “ginger”. In French, when pronouncing “gigaoctet”, both ‘g’s differ in phonetics. – Benoit – 2017-01-26T09:05:16.793

1

@Benoit usually yes, but the iniital soft G isn't unkown among native speakers (usually older ones) Collins lists ˈdʒɪgə as an alternative, for example.

– Chris H – 2017-01-26T11:29:41.910

2@DepressedDaniel, unspecified volumes with cars are the engine size. – Separatrix – 2017-01-26T13:38:00.657

3@Tim RAM is also commonly expressed in GB. While 16 GB of RAM on a phone would be unlikely, 4 or 8 would be plausible for both RAM and Disk size. – Carl Kevinson – 2017-01-26T16:59:17.983

7I came here all ready to answer 'Great Britain'. – nekomatic – 2017-01-27T11:53:25.420

1@DepressedDaniel Or displacement (20 L of which is, naturally, about as likely as 64 GB of RAM on a phone.) – Random832 – 2017-01-27T16:18:23.903

Answers

56

You typically don't spell out shorthand or acronyms for units of measurement, especially if the shorthand is not easily pronounceable.

In this case, say "gigabytes".

Colloquially, native speakers may also say "gigs".

Curtis White

Posted 2017-01-25T22:05:26.123

Reputation: 1 652

7Yep, I was just going to say "gigs" is fine, but you edited :) – Andrew – 2017-01-25T22:20:41.650

but don't they say "K" "G" for weight? – user13267 – 2017-01-26T00:59:13.637

4@user13267 - I often use "K" for kilometers, but I would always say "kilograms", not "K-G". – J.R. – 2017-01-26T01:25:23.810

The technical problem is that GB may be 'gigabyte' or it may be 'gibibyte' - the difference is a factor of 93%. – Der Kommissar – 2017-01-26T04:35:18.747

6To be fair, gibibyte is not in common use by the average English speaker. Gigibyte will almost always be assumed. – Curtis White – 2017-01-26T04:39:20.140

5

@EBrown The unit symbol for Gibibyte is "GiB" not "GB".

– walen – 2017-01-26T08:34:14.377

10@user13267 I'd usually say "kilos" for kilograms, "mils" or "mil" for milligrams/millilitres. – Tom – 2017-01-26T09:32:44.760

3+1, but interestingly I think people do (or did) say "K" for memory and kilobits per second (I remember my "thirty-two kay RAM BBC micro", and "56 kay modem") but this doesn't hold true for "M" or "G". – abligh – 2017-01-26T09:49:35.153

2@Tom Also, it's worth pointing out that "mils" is an oral shorthand for millimeters or milliliters, but it shouldn't be written down like that, to not confuse it with a thousandth of an inch (mil, pronounced thou). – Sebi – 2017-01-26T12:47:28.097

I would also be entirely unsurprised if a native speaker said "sixty-four gee bee." It might not be the most common way of pronouncing it, but it's not at all weird, at least in some contexts. @Sebi: "mill" also has a long history as a word meaning "thousandth part" just as "cent" means "hundredth part," though mill is of course much less common. In fact, for many years the decimalized dollar was conceived as being divided into ten dimes, which were divided into ten cents, which were divided into ten mills. That's why the US dime says "one dime" rather than "ten cents." – phoog – 2017-01-26T19:55:25.040

@EBrown One learns something everyday. I am in IT for 25 years and I have never seen that expression (I know of course the difference between the 1024 vs 1000 multiplier but always specified which kilo, mega or giga was used) – WoJ – 2017-01-27T09:53:49.213

2I know I'm only one datapoint, but I'd never say "16 gigs". I'd say "16 gig". I don't know why. Maybe I'm treating "gig" as an abbreviation for either "gigabyte or "gigabytes", rather than treating "gig" as a noun that can be pluralised. – Steve Jessop – 2017-01-27T11:04:47.257

One terribly incorrect, but quite popular one I've heard locally is "gigarams" – Brian Knoblauch – 2017-01-27T15:56:19.740

23

With units of measurement like that, you write them without any plural marker, but say them with the plural marker

Examples:

64GB → Sixty-four gigabytes

1GB → One gigabyte

30km → Thirty kilometers

1L → One liter

2L → Two liters


As for saying 'Gee Bee' instead of gigabytes, that's harder to answer, and probably up to personal preference to a certain degree. It sounds a little bit like something my technically illiterate parents would say

My phone has 64 gee bee

But as a counter example, I often hear things like

My internet is slow, I'm only getting 300 kbps (said kay bee pee ess, stands for kilobits per second)

I also agree with people saying

My phone has 64 gigs

or

I have a 64 gig phone

Those are probably the most natural and casual for GB specifically.

Joe Pinsonault

Posted 2017-01-25T22:05:26.123

Reputation: 896

4For your internet speed example, "kbps" is actually kilobits per second, not kilobytes. – MJ713 – 2017-01-25T23:22:04.033

1Ah, sorry, I should have capitalized the B. I intended to talk about bytes – Joe Pinsonault – 2017-01-25T23:25:46.157

5@JoePinsonault you are still wrong, you say "I often hear things like" - however, no one on the planet talks about internet speed in terms of bytes. So please change it to kilobits per second. – theonlygusti – 2017-01-25T23:34:42.373

1Where I live (oregon), and in my line of work (programmer), it's the exact opposite. We complain about internet service provider commercials being in kilobits per second because no one talks that way. If I'm downloading a video game, I would say "It's going at 5 megabytes per second, it'll be done in 20 minutes". I, and everyone I know in my area, would say bytes 100% of the time in that context. I imagine though, that if I worked with networking hardware often, I would talk about bits more frequently, since that seems to be the standard industry terminology – Joe Pinsonault – 2017-01-25T23:52:19.160

But regardless of kBps or kbps, it could be pronounced kay bee pee ess – Joe Pinsonault – 2017-01-25T23:59:27.853

5I can vouch that in my area we always talk in bytes when talking about internet speeds. It's annoying that providers list the bits instead but they do that to make it seem like a bigger number. – CornSmith – 2017-01-26T00:07:51.683

1The traditional reason that internet speeds are in bits per second even though most download speeds are in bytes per second is that the bps number refers to total data, including all metadata, overhead, etc., and the B/s number refers only to payload, so it will be less than the bps/8 you might expect (a useful rule of thumb at one point was to divide the quoted bps by 10 to get the effective payload transfer rate). – Jonathan Callen – 2017-01-26T01:14:58.557

7@theonlygusti not sure where you got the impression that "no one on the planet" thinks internet speeds are measured in bytes. I can assure you the opposite is true. Only technical people know or care that network speeds are bitwise. – barbecue – 2017-01-26T01:26:16.313

1A space shall be used to separate the numerical value from the unit symbol. – None – 2017-01-26T01:43:43.260

In India, I hear plenty of technically literate people say things like "8 gee bee RAM", or "1 tee bee hard disk" – muru – 2017-01-26T05:39:35.390

According to the SI Unit rules and style conventions, there's always supposed to be a space between the numerical value and the unit. All your examples are thus written incorrectly (30km vs 30 km), except for the 300 kbps one. – Alex – 2017-01-26T10:52:15.263

@muru, want to make that a new answer with some more detail? It's useful to give regional differences like that. – Karen – 2017-01-26T14:00:26.463

@Karen sure, but what sort of detail? – muru – 2017-01-26T14:24:07.423

1You may use bytes to talk about download speed but not the bandwidth. If you want a buy 5 Mbps (bits) connection you don't ask for a .625 MBps (bytes) connection! – AbraCadaver – 2017-01-26T16:56:32.947

@barbecue Generally speaking, only ‘technical people’ are aware that there is such a thing as bitwise and bytewise at all and have any idea what the difference is. To the majority of people, you might as well measure download speed in potatoes for all the difference that would make: bigger number still equals faster download, and that’s all that matters. – Janus Bahs Jacquet – 2017-01-26T18:38:48.647

@theonlygusti whenever you are talking about downloading something, you will most likely express the speed in term of [kMG]bytes per second. – njzk2 – 2017-01-26T18:43:09.043

6

The answer may vary regionally.

I would pronounce a "64GB phone" as a

64-gigabyte phone

(Notice that there is no -s on gigabytes here because "gigabyte" precedes and is modifying "phone.")

I would not call it a 64-gig phone or a 64-gigabytes phone, although I would understand what someone meant if they used either of those expressions.

I have a 64-gigabyte phone.


If the question were about "64GB of RAM" in a computer, I would pronounce it as either

64 gigabytes of RAM

--or--

64 gigs of RAM

I am thinking about buying a computer that has 64 gigs of RAM.

I am thinking about buying a computer that has 64 gigabytes of RAM.

user48167

Posted 2017-01-25T22:05:26.123

Reputation:

3Just to clarify, a numeric quantity used as a compound adjective takes the singular form of the unit because English does not have a plural form for adjectives. Hence "a 64-gigabyte phone", "a 10-meter drop", "a 4-gallon drum" and so on. – traktor53 – 2017-01-27T00:04:35.180

3

The most common would be to say it fully.

A phone with 64 gigabytes.

Note the plural 'gigabytes'. It's also fairly common to say

A phone with 64 gigs.

Though this is more informal, it's usually clear in context what the unit is with only the prefix. This is similar to how someone might say

That stone weighs 100 kilos.

Tofystedeth

Posted 2017-01-25T22:05:26.123

Reputation: 1 140

6but a stone weighs 6.35 kilos! ;) – xorsyst – 2017-01-26T12:32:55.953

2I'd say 'A phone with 64 gig'. – flywire – 2017-01-26T03:13:49.180

1

Should I say

  "A phone with 64 gigabyte."

or

  "A phone with 64 GB (simply pronounce the letter 'G' and 'B')."

To answer your direct question, I would say:

I would like a phone with 64 gigabytes of RAM, please.

(You have to put in the units, otherwise it is like saying "I want a phone with 42").

To say "GB" sounds like "jeebee" as in Heebie-jeebies. I think you would get a blank look if you asked for "64 jeebee".


More colloquially you might say:

What have you got with 64 gigabytes?

They will probably realise you mean RAM and not buttons or cameras or something like that.

Nick Gammon

Posted 2017-01-25T22:05:26.123

Reputation: 927

-1

I agree with @Shosht that the pronunciation is likely very regional, for example in England i've heard it commonly pronounced

Guh-Buh

It is unlikely to be used in a formal context, for example a meeting or presentation, but between friends, family or a relaxed environment I have heard this frequently used.

I'll even admit that i have used this phrasing before when talking to less IT literate people.

So the sentence would be phrased something like -

I would like the 64 guh buh phone please

samuelmr

Posted 2017-01-25T22:05:26.123

Reputation: 99

2Not sure what part of England (or GB - 'Gee-Bee', not 'Guh-Buh' - Great Britain or UK - 'You-Kay', not 'Uh-Kuh' - United Kingdom) you are from but I have never heard anyone say 'guh buh' (except maybe a 5 year old child learning the alphabet). 'Gig' is probably the most common I've heard. – Piers Myers – 2017-01-26T16:38:31.953

I wasn't implying this pronunciation worked with similar words or contexts so I don't understand your emphasis on GB as in Great Britain. I did state that its used within an informal environment, maybe even as you suggested by an adult being rather childish. I agree that Gig is likely the most common and didn't dispute that, I was merely giving another example of how regional phrases vary, with some being more common than others. – samuelmr – 2017-01-26T16:42:40.787

1I have never heard "GB" pronounced as "guh-buh" in England (or anywhere else in the UK); this is not common at all and will likely get you some strange looks if you use it! – psmears – 2017-01-26T17:01:59.693

The use of "Guh-Buh" might be more down to the teaching of phonics rather than regional accents. I say this, because I once asked a native English person to spell something, and they pronounced the letters this way. I remember finding it strange. Anyway, I think it is safer to stick with gigabytes.

– AlexB – 2017-01-27T10:22:31.283