a dozen or so/a dozen or more/several dozen/a few dozen

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zaffy

Senior Member
Polish
1. What do I say If I mean a number between say 13-17?

-A dozen or so people were injured.
-A dozen or more people were injured.

2. And a number between say 50-70

-Several dozen people died in that fire.
-A few dozen people died in that fire.
-A couple of dozen people died in that fire.
-Dozens of people died in that fire.

Are those all correct?
 
  • DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Although "a dozen", strictly speaking, means twelve, in ordinary everyday casual use it frequently denotes about twelve, or roughly twelve, particularly when you don't know what the exact number actually is.

    The only one of those examples which I would personally class as wrong is using "a couple of dozen" to mean 50-70.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    So if you hear 'a dozen people died in the plane crash' on the news, the first thing that springs into your mind is 12 or about 12?
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    1. And can a number as high as 17 also be covered by dozen? Or here it is better to say 'a dozen or more'?

    2. 'A dozen or so' can also mean 10 or 11, right?

    3. Generally are 'a dozen or so' and 'a dozen or more' commonly used?
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Or here it is better to say 'a dozen or more'?
    Since it was at least 13, then strictly "a dozen or more" is not correct in the usual way that "or" is interpreted.
    If I say "three or four", then it was either three or four, no other numbers are possible.
    If I say "three or more", then it could have been three or four or five or ...
    But if it was definitely at least four, I would not say "three or more".

    I would therefore suggest that "more than a dozen" or "over a dozen" would be better than "a dozen or more".

    For the 50-70 case, another option is "scores of people". A score is 20.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    And 'a dozen' or 'several dozen' will never refer to money, right? So what can I say if something is between 13-17 or 50-70 dollars?

    In Polish we can say e.g. 'It costs a dozen or so dollars'. Or 'It was several dozen pounds"
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Dozen refers to things that we count individually (there were about a dozen people waiting for the bus), or to groups of 12 (a dozen eggs).
    When we're taking about a sum of money, we treat is as one uncountable amount, e.g. fifty pounds is a lot to pay for a pair of jeans (not fifty pounds are a lot to pay ..... :cross:). We don't count the pounds individually, nor do we count them in groups of 12. We ask "how much does it cost?", not "how many pounds does it cost? :cross:
    So don't use dozen with sums of money.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    So if you hear 'a dozen people died in the plane crash' on the news, the first thing that springs into your mind is 12 or about 12?
    It would suggest to me that the death toll hadn't been confirmed and so it was an estimate - "about 12".
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    And how do you interpret "a dozen" in the incident described here? About 12, right? Could it be as many as 15?

    A dozen mothers went to the Volusia County Board of Education meeting to voice their opposition to an *indefinite* mask mandate for all children in county schools. They were first "allowed" to enter without masks, but then "officials" changed their minds. They spent 1.5 hours trying to get the mothers to leave and threatening to have them trespassed. They brought in a paddy wagon and 8 law enforcement officers.

    People's Rights interviews mother assaulted and trespassed from Florida school board meeting
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    -A couple of dozen people died in that fire.
    The only one of those examples which I would personally class as wrong is using "a couple of dozen" to mean 50-70.
    It’s wrong mathematically, and it’s also wrong syntactically. Even if the figure itself were correct, it would need to be “a couple dozen people,” without “of.”
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    And how do you interpret "a dozen" in the incident described here? About 12, right? Could it be as many as 15?

    A dozen mothers went to the Volusia County Board of Education meeting to voice their opposition to an *indefinite* mask mandate for all children in county schools. They were first "allowed" to enter without masks, but then "officials" changed their minds. They spent 1.5 hours trying to get the mothers to leave and threatening to have them trespassed. They brought in a paddy wagon and 8 law enforcement officers.

    People's Rights interviews mother assaulted and trespassed from Florida school board meeting
    Yes, it's "about 12".

    I would guess that whoever wrote that report doesn't actually know the exact figure and is just estimating. A but further down, it says " Eight mothers were ultimately trespassed and dragged out of the board meeting " but presumably that figure was actually officially recorded, several of the mothers by that time having left the meeting of their own accord.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    So there is one thing that always confuses me. If someone doesn't know the exact number, why do they say "a dozen" rather than "a dozen or so"? This is just ilogical to me.
    Who knows?

    Perhaps whoever wrote the piece does know the exact figure and just thought that "a dozen" made it sound more interesting than "twelve". ;)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    To me it actually does mean exactly “twelve mothers.” By which I mean, that’s how I understand it. Whether the author meant something else, I don’t know.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    To me it actually does mean exactly “twelve mothers.” By which I mean, that’s how I understand it. Whether the author meant something else, I don’t know.
    You might not realise, but you natives love using 'a dozen'. It has become totally obsolete in Polish and that's the reason why I notice your 'dozens' even with a greater awareness. And I'm pretty sure in most cases it is used when the number is not exactly twelve and that's why non-natives are confused and ask. It is very often used in news reports - a dozen people die, a dozen people missing, a dozen teens arrested, a dozen women injured and so on and so forth. It's really hard to believe that it is a coinicdence, that is, that all those news reports or incidents refer to the exact number of twelve.
     
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    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    In the US do you also get a dozen of eggs?
    Yes. They're almost always sold by the dozen, although occasionally a store will also sell them by the half-dozen, and you can also buy them by the two dozen. They're sold in containers just like the ones in your photo, or in similarly-shaped plastic containers.
    Baked goods are also sold by the dozen: doughnuts and bagels come to mind, but probably also cupcakes and cookies.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    So which form would, say, a wife use while asking her husband to get eggs?

    -Can you get me six eggs?
    -Can you get me half a dozen eggs?

    1606140727478.png
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    I'd say "Get six eggs' because I probably counted, egg by egg, how many I need for which recipe.

    But I imagine people often say 'get a half-dozen eggs' (note: 'a half-dozen' not 'half a dozen').
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    That's interesting. I'd say 'half a dozen' for things that aren't normally in groups of 6 or 12, but 'a half-dozen' for eggs.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    And here? What does the wife say?

    "Get me 24 eggs."
    "Get me two dozen eggs."
    "Get me a big box of egss."

    1606141850845.png



    And there is another difference. In Poland big packaging always contains 30 eggs.

    1606142012003.png
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Half a dozen eggs... A dozen eggs... Both sizes of packaging are available in our local supermarket. If you need more, it's Two dozen eggs. (Packed in two one-dozen boxes).

    I've never counted how many there are in the big lidless container - it's for shop display and not for carrying home.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    I would suppose something like your third example -- "get one of those big boxes of eggs" -- if that's what she meant. If you asked me to get two dozen eggs I'd bring back two one-dozen boxes.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    So there is one thing that always confuses me. If someone doesn't know the exact number, why do they say "a dozen" rather than "a dozen or so"? This is just ilogical to me.
    West coast here:
    I don't think it's illogical :)
    If someone knows it was twelve exactly, I personally would expect them to say that. If there was some uncertainty, that might be indicated by choosing dozen over twelve; a dozen or so indicates more uncertainty and a dozen or more indicates a certainty that the number was at least twelve but possibly more.
    (Afterthought: using dozen to refer to deaths already sounds somewhat strange or perhaps callous).
     
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    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    If you asked me to get two dozen eggs I'd bring back two one-dozen boxes.
    If you asked me to get two dozen eggs, I might come back with four half-dozen boxes. It would depend on what they had at the store.
    If they had boxes of 24, I'd probably get one of them, unless there were some logistical reason that would make it unwise.
    If they had boxes of 30, and they worked out cheaper per egg than the boxes of twelve, I'd get one of those, without fear of being reprimanded for overstepping my authority.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    If you asked me to get two dozen eggs, I might come back with four half-dozen boxes. It would depend on what they had at the store.
    If they had boxes of 24, I'd probably get one of them, unless there were some logistical reason that would make it unwise.
    If they had boxes of 30, and they worked out cheaper per egg than the boxes of twelve, I'd get one of those, without fear of being reprimanded for overstepping my authority.
    :D
    If I came back with four half-dozen boxes I'd have to prepare a long presentation with charts and citations of historical precedents and diagrams of placement of boxes using trigonometry and calculus to address the issue of why I didn't get what my husband thought I would get.
     
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