(for) ninety-nine times

brian&me

Senior Member
Chinese - China
I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right. -- Albert Einstein

I wonder if the word ‘for’ is left out before ‘ninety-nine times’ and ‘the hundredth time’.

Thanks a lot in advance.
 
  • mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    No. Simply the number of times the conclusion proved false. He could also have said "For the ninety-ninth times I was wrong. The hundredth time I was right" But as stated you feel the weight of 99 mistakes more, in my opinion.

    Compare the old expression "No, no, a thousand times no!" with "For the thousandth time, no!"
     

    brian&me

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thanks, Mgarizona.

    I have a new question.
    For Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false,
    why not Ninety-nine times, the conclusions are false.

    I wonder if I could reword Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false as follows:

    In ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    The difference between "Ninety-nine times the conclusion is false" and "Ninety-nine times the conclusions are false" is only how many conclusions are under discussion, one conclusion or multiple conclusions. Has no bearing on the number of times it was or they were false.

    "In ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false" does not work. You can either use a number without a preposition (Ninety-nine times), or an ordinal number with 'for' (For the ninety-ninth time), though of course these express two very different things. The preposition 'in' tends to suggest 'time' in the sense 'the progress of seconds, minutes, hours, etc. Not 'times' as in the counting of instances.
     

    brian&me

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thanks again, Mgarizona.
    Has no bearing on the number of times it was or they were false.
    I don't quite understand this sentence. Would you please do more explanation?

    And I'd also like to know if Einstein's saying means for the same problem he makes conclusion 1 the first time, conclusion 2 the second time, conclusion 3 the third time, ... conclusion 99 the 99th time, but all the conclusions are wrong or he tries 99 times and he always gets the same conclusion, which is false.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    I don't quite understand this sentence. Would you please do more explanation?
    The phrase "the conclusion" could cover multiple conclusions but it's singular because it means "The conclusion on each occasion".

    Einstein meant that he may come to a hundred different conclusions about different problems over a period of time and ninety-nine of them are likely to be wrong. Yes, they may be multiple conclusions but what he meant was "On ninety-nine of those hundred occasions, the conclusion (that I arrive at on each occasion) is wrong".
    And I'd also like to know if Einstein's saying means for the same problem he makes conclusion 1 the first time, conclusion 2 the second time, conclusion 3 the third time, ... conclusion 99 the 99th time, but all the conclusions are wrong or he tries 99 times and he always gets the same conclusion, which is false.
    It could be either of those, or it could be a hundred different problems out of which he solves only one, or a combination in between. The numbers he uses aren't meant to be taken too literally. He meant that when he tried to work things out, he was wrong much more often than he was right.
     

    brian&me

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thanks, Barque.
    I wonder if Einstein means he thinks for months and years and he is only correct one out of a hundred.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Yes, that is what he means, but as I said, "hundred" isn't meant to be taken too literally. He thought of a lot of possible solutions to a lot of problems but very few of them turned out to be correct.
     
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