How to Identify the Place Value of Decimals

By Mark Zegarelli

With decimals, this idea behind the place value of whole numbers is extended. First, a decimal point is placed to the right of the ones place in a whole number. Then more numbers are appended to the right of the decimal point.

The following table shows how the whole number 4,672 breaks down in terms of place value.

Breaking Down 4,672 in Terms of Place Value
Thousands Hundreds Tens Ones
4 6 7 2

This number means 4,000 + 600 + 70 + 2.

Similarly, the decimal 4,672.389 breaks down as shown:

Breaking Down the Decimal 4,672.389
Thous-ands Hun-dreds Tens Ones Decimal Point Tenths Hun-dredths Thous-andths
4 6 7 2 . 3 8 9

This decimal means


The connection between fractions and decimals becomes obvious when you look at place value. Decimals really are a shorthand notation for fractions. You can represent any fraction as a decimal.