Video: KS2-M17 • Paper 2 • Question 15

At the end of a film, the year is given in Roman numerals. Write the year MMVI in figures.

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Video Transcript

At the end of a film, the year is given in Roman numerals. Write the year MMVI in figures.

Have you’ve ever watched a film or a television program right until the very end after all the credits? You’ve probably seen a string of letters come up on the screen just like this. They’re a way of telling us when the film or the television program was made. But instead of using the digits zero to nine that we’d usually use to show a date, films and television programs often show the year using Roman numerals.

And we can see in the picture here and in the last statement that we’re being asked to find out what the Roman numerals MMVI mean. What year does this represent? Romans use letters to represent numbers. So this date has been written using letters, M, M, V, and I. This is one of those problems where if we don’t know the facts, we can’t really solve it.

Unless we know what the letters M, V, or I actually represent, then there’s no way of knowing what year it represents. So let’s remind ourselves of the facts behind these Roman numerals. Can we think of ways to remember them? The letter M represents 1000. A good way to remember this is that the Latin word that this comes from is all to do with thousands.

The word millimeter comes from the Latin and there are 1000 millimeters in a meter. The word milliliter also comes from the Latin and there are 1000 milliliters in a liter. And of course, there are 1000 years in a millennium.

The mill part of these words comes from the language that the Romans spoke and it’s linked to the number 1000. 1000 years in a millennium helps us to remember that the letter M equals 1000.

The letter V has a value of five. If we have a clock face with Roman numerals on it, the number five will be represented by a V. And often, we see the letter V in history: kings and queens that were the fifth will be written with a V after their name. And finally, the letter I is perhaps the easiest one to remember. It looks like a one and it has a value of one.

Now, we can find the value of the year MMVI. We can write this as the calculation M plus M plus V plus I. Something to be careful about when answering questions about Roman numerals is that Roman numerals don’t always work like this.

If the date was written as MMIV, so in other words if the one came before the five, then we don’t just add the one to the five like we’ve just written out. We need to think of it as one before five or representing the number four. We don’t have to worry about this at all in this problem. But it’s something to be aware of. The order of the Roman numerals matters.

Anyway, let’s get back to our calculation. M equals 1000, V represents the number five, and I represents the number one. 1000 plus 1000 equals 2000 plus five equals 2005 plus the one equals 2006. So the year that this particular film was made was 2006.

Notice that we write out the year without a comma or a gap between the thousands and the hundreds. When we write out years, we just write them as a string of digits. So to solve this problem, we needed to know two things.

Firstly, we needed to know what the letters M, V, and I represented in Roman numerals. If we didn’t know this, there’s no way we’d have been able to work out the answer. So we used our knowledge of some everyday uses of these letters to help us. And then secondly, we used these values to calculate what the year was worth.

In this particular Roman number, all we had to do was add each letter together. The year MMVI is written as 2006 or two, zero, zero, six.