An hour and a half is

younghon

Senior Member
Korean - Korea
1. One and a half hours are ninety minutes.
2. An hour and a half is relatively close.

Q: I understand that 'plural verb' is correct in two sentences.
However, there was 'is' in the example of English grammar online. Is this right? If so, why?
 
  • i am cool

    Senior Member
    American English
    In these cases you can consider it as a singular quantity/amount instead of a plural. The quantity itself is what you're effectively using as the subject.

    With scientific quantities (including time), I personally would find it strange to use the plural. Time is continuous, not discrete; you measure time, not count it.

    I'm not sure whether it's necessarily correct/incorrect to use the plural, but I prefer the singular.

    Going back to the example sentences from OP, I'm unsure on the context/intention.

    "One and a half hours are ninety minutes." This sounds like it's trying to say something mathematical without using mathematical language. I would expect "One and a half hours is equal to ninety minutes."

    "An hour and a half is relatively close." This is a very awkward use of "close", so I have to make guesses on what this is supposed to mean. I'd prefer "An hour and a half is a relatively short/small [amount of] time", or "An hour and a half away is relatively close", depending on the context.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    One and a half is a number - all numbers greater than one are plural.
    An hour and a half is a noun phrase - it is singular
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    If you think of it with an implied phrase like "a length of" you'll see why the singular is normal:

    [A length of] one and a half hours is [equal to] ninety minutes.

    We're only interested in the plural "number of units" to the extent that they provide a measure of time.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    [A length of] one and a half hours is [equal to] ninety minutes.
    I would say that the parsing is "A length [of one and a half hours] is [equal to] ninety minutes." and [of one and a half hours] is merely a modifier which does not affect the verb.
     
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