# Finger counting

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 317104.  Tue Apr 15, 2008 5:35 pm Wow that's very clever - I like it :-D Yes, I've just been wiggling my fingers about counting from 0 to 99...

 317110.  Tue Apr 15, 2008 5:40 pm I usually use finger counting on a day to day basis ... I just thought I was a bit 'backward at coming forwards', cause math has never been my strong point (or just couldn't find a calculator - LOL), but it appears now finger counting is ok (the system I use is very similar) :)

 317152.  Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:34 pm Great system, M! Though I'm really struggling with the 8; if I extend the middle three fingers, I can only keep the pinkie in by restraining it with the thumb. That's fine for doing the 3, but means I can't do the 8. Have I got weird hands, or do others find it hard as well?

 317171.  Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:48 pm I try but the hairs on my palms keep obscuring my fingers.

 317255.  Wed Apr 16, 2008 1:53 am That's great... but I just have one question.. Why?

 317256.  Wed Apr 16, 2008 1:56 am If you used your toes, can you count up to 999?

 317257.  Wed Apr 16, 2008 1:56 am I must say that I don't care 'why'...the point is that while people may well think that they can only count up to 10 with their fingers they can actually count up to 99....and I find that Quite (if not very) Interesting... :-D

 317274.  Wed Apr 16, 2008 3:18 am Very good. The most useful thing I can imagine it being for is long-distance number signalling, for example in the supermarket when your other half sends you to the other end of the aisle to tell her a price. Granted, it doesn't happen much, but it's good to be prepared. I assume everyone knows the 3 times table helper? Hold up both hands with fingers outstretched and lower the appropriate finger for your multiplier, eg if you want to know what 3 times 9 is, lower your middle finger (thumb/1, index/2, middle/3). Now count the digits 'before' the lowered finger (to the left of it if you're left-handed, right if not). These are your tens. Then count the remaining digits. These are your units. Thus lowering your middle finger yields 2 digits before, 20, and 7 digits after, 7, so 9x3=27. Obviously only works up to 9x10 but some of us need all the help we can get. Does anyone else have a similar system for other numbers? My 7 times table is bad.

317283.  Wed Apr 16, 2008 3:33 am

 Southpaw wrote: I assume everyone knows the 3 times table helper? Hold up both hands with fingers outstretched and lower the appropriate finger for your multiplier, eg if you want to know what 3 times 9 is, lower your middle finger (thumb/1, index/2, middle/3).
Very good, except that it's your 9 times table helper, surely?

 317299.  Wed Apr 16, 2008 3:48 am Well the easy way for the 9 times table is : subtract 1 from the number you're multiplying for your tens, subtract the number from 10 to get your units. so for 7 times 9, the tens part is x-1, which is 6, and the units part is 10-x which is 3 - ie 63 ! Or you can get your tens in the same way and subtract that number from 9 for your units. I dont know any other "easy" ways.. The weird thing is my brother taught me my 9 times table before I went to primary school - and also negative numbers...

317305.  Wed Apr 16, 2008 3:53 am

 Quote: why?

I believe the system was developed at a time when numbers didn't have written symbols, and was probably used by farmers who wouldn't have been able to read, write or produce written calculations. So, using your fingers to count to 99 is far better than having 99 pebbles in your shepherds pouch to count with.

I love the idea of distance communication of numbers, almost like a kind of Tick-Tack that bookies use. Although you'd have to be careful to keep your palms facing away from you when signalling to your partner at the other end of the Supermarket that you wanted 22 bottles of your favourite beer.

I'm still trying to get my brain around the 3 times table fingers. : )

 317324.  Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:06 am If you could use your toes (which seems unlikely, given the degree of control you'd need over them) you'd get up to 9999. Though in any case I prefer the idea of using fingers as bits, so you can count up to 31 on one hand, 1023 on two, or 1048575 with both hands and both feet. Still, the problem I find is that all of these clever tricks are far more complicated than just doing arithmetic in your head. Or on paper, if there's too much for that.

317341.  Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:31 am

 Quote: Still, the problem I find is that all of these clever tricks are far more complicated than just doing arithmetic in your head.

The point with the 99 finger count is that it's a system that was actually used rather than just a clever trick.

 Quote: ...the point is that while people may well think that they can only count up to 10 with their fingers they can actually count up to 99....and I find that Quite (if not very) Interesting

That's exactly my point; in the West we are brought up to think that you can only count up to 10 with your fingers. In another part of the world a different method of finger counting was developed that enables a person to count up to 99. I think that's really Quite Interesting.

How I wish I'd known how to do that as a child learning numbers.

317364.  Wed Apr 16, 2008 5:02 am

 Quote: I'm still trying to get my brain around the 3 times table fingers. : )

Just to re-iterate.

Example: 4x9

1. Hold out your hands, fingers outstretched.
2. Lower your left ring finger (4 fingers in, including the thumb, because we're multiplying by 4)
3. You now have 3 digits (thumb and 2 fingers) to the left of the lowered finger. 3 x 10 = 30.
4. You also have 6 digits to the right of the lowered finger; your left little finger and all the digits on your right hand. 6 digits = 6. 30 + 6 = 36. 4x9=36. Voila!

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