60 miles per hour

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Packard

Senior Member
Context:

I recently said, "I was travelling 70 miles per hour in a 60 mile per hour zone." Version #1

I did not say, "I was travelling 70 miles per hour in a 60 miles per hour zone." Version #2

Question:

My ear says the first version is fine, and the second one is not. Am I right? And why? I can't figure it out.

• MilkyBarKid

Senior Member
"I was travelling 70 mile per hour in a 60 mile per hour zone."

The sentence is referring to speed, not individual miles.

"I was travelling at a speed of 70 m.p.h."
"That wall is 20 foot high."

srk

Senior Member
"I was travelling 70 mile per hour in a 60 mile per hour zone."
I would not say it that way and have never heard it that way. I would say it Packard's way.

I'd also say "The wall is 20 feet high" and "I was travelling at a speed of 70 miles per hour."

Edit: I might hyphenate the compound adjective: 60-mile-per-hour zone, but that doesn't answer the question.

Another edit: I'd also say "It's a 20-foot-tall wall."

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Miss Julie

Senior Member
I might hyphenate the compound adjective: 60-mile-per-hour zone, but that doesn't answer the question.
It's because Americans usually drop the 's' when using compound adjectives...that's why Version 1 sounds right to you and Version 2 does not.

(And I believe this is not done in British English.)

heypresto

Senior Member
I've said both to myself several times, and version #2 is the one that sounds right to me.

But as Miss Julie suggests, this may be because I'm one of those BE speakers. Or it may just be me.

dojibear

Senior Member
"Miles per hour" is speed. That is what "mph" stands for. "Kph" stands for "kilometers per hour". This is standard usage in engineering and science: speed is describe as "<distance units> per <single time period>".

I think "in a 60 mile per hour zone" should be written "in a 60-mile-per-hour zone". Then it is correct (in AE) to drop the "s".

I recently said, "I was travelling 70 miles per hour in a 60 mile per hour zone." Version #1
What Packard probably said was "in a 60-mile-per-hour zone". But it sounds the same in spoken English (with and without the "-"s) so some people may think it is correct to write it without the "-"s.

PaulQ

Senior Member
I did not say, "I was travelling 70 miles per hour in a 60 miles per hour zone." Version #2
Good!
As a BE speaker, to me, the phrase is "60 mile per hour zone" but "60 miles an hour zone" - in the latter the "an" has an ellipsed "in".

60 mile is one semantic unit (I'm sure there's a proper name for this.) It is common for the unit of distance following a number to be singular:
"I am six foot."
"I need four metre of 4 by 2."
"The hole's three inch - it won't reach the bottom.
"London is 17 mile from here."

Miss Julie

Senior Member
I say "miles an hour" as well.

dojibear

Senior Member
"I am six foot."
"I need four metre of 4 by 2."
"The hole's three inch - it won't reach the bottom.
"London is 17 mile from here."
Wow! Do BE speakers talk like that? We sure don't say those things here in the U.S. of A(lmost-English).

Piatkow

Senior Member
I would say "miles an hour" but would write "miles per hour" if I thought it imappropriate to abbreviate to "mph".

Unless I felt a strong need to expand the abbreviation I would always prefer "mph".

heypresto

Senior Member
I also say 'I'm six foot tall'. But I would say 'I need 4 metres of 4 by 2' and London is 17 miles from here'.

If I had a 3-inch hole, I would say it was '3 inches deep/wide'.

And I usually say ''miles an hour'.

Packard

Senior Member
Now that we have all agreed... we can go onto other pressing linguistic issues.

I think I will stick with what "sounds" right to me, logic be damned.

Enjoy the weekend.

Packard

kentix

Senior Member
I couldn't live with myself if I said "London is 17 mile from here."

So add me to the (extensive) list of people using plurals.

RM1(SS)

Senior Member
"Miles per hour" is speed. That is what "mph" stands for. "Kph" stands for "kilometers per hour". This is standard usage in engineering and science: speed is describe as "<distance units> per <single time period>".
When we were learning about the metric system in fourth(?) grade -- way back in the '60s, we were taught km/h, not kph.

I almost always say "an hour," not "per hour," but other than that I agree with the other AE speakers: "60 miles an hour" and "a sixty-mile-an-hour zone. (Though my version of Packard's first sentence would be "I was doing seventy in a sixty."

And what is this "weekend" of which you people speak?

dojibear

Senior Member
we were taught km/h
When speaking "/", some people say "per" while others say "an".

Of course we "per" speakers look down our noses at "an" speakers. After all, "per" is Latin!

RM1(SS)

Senior Member
Reading that aloud, I would say "We were taught kay-em-slash-aitch, not kay-pee-aitch."

Actually, upon reflection I think that I usually use kilometres per hour* and miles an hour. Odd, that....

* "kill-oh-ME-ters"

meijin

Senior Member
I recently said, "I was travelling
Is there any reason you prefer the BE/CE/AuE spelling "travelling"? I've just checked the three existing traveling-vs-travelling thread and couldn't find a post that says AmE speakers also use the BE/CE/AuE spelling.

franzjekill

Mod E/S
60 mile per hour zone.
60-mile-per-hour is a phrasal adjective (it modifies the noun zone) and needless to say, adjectives are invariable, they only take the singular form. This has nothing to do with AE/BE.

I was travelling 70 miles per hour
"70 miles per hour…” is a noun and nouns have plural form.

Be careful with speed...
I couldn't live with myself if I said "London is 17 mile from here."
I couldn't either. In your example, 17 miles is not an adjective, it is just a noun.

natkretep

Moderato con anima (English Only)
Is there any reason you prefer the BE/CE/AuE spelling "travelling"? I've just checked the three existing traveling-vs-travelling thread and couldn't find a post that says AmE speakers also use the BE/CE/AuE spelling.
Look at JustKate's comment in this thread:
sailing - why not double "l"?

Doesn't all that repetition sound too precise? Many would avoid the issue and just say 'I was doing 70 in a 60 zone.'

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Andygc

Senior Member
"I was travelling 70 miles per hour in a 60-mile-per-hour zone." Version #3

(Although I'd use "60-mile-an-hour zone", my being a BE speaker.)

Cenzontle

Senior Member
Americans usually drop the 's' when using compound adjectives
The "adjective" doesn't even have to be compound.
Think of "the drug problem" (sometimes "the drugs problem" in BE), "the refugee problem" (never "the refugees problem", I trust), or "a foot path".
These examples involve more than one drug, refugee, or foot.
It's as if when a noun "becomes" an adjective (or, evidently, part of a compound adjective), it gives up the noun's privilege of having a plural form.

Miss Julie

Senior Member
The "adjective" doesn't even have to be compound.
Think of "the drug problem" (sometimes "the drugs problem" in BE), "the refugee problem" (never "the refugees problem", I trust), or "a foot path".
These examples involve more than one drug, refugee, or foot.
It's as if when a noun "becomes" an adjective (or, evidently, part of a compound adjective), it gives up the noun's privilege of having a plural form.
Right, that's what I meant...when using a noun as an adjective in general.

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