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"A billion" means "one billion". It is a number, no different than "ten". Both are used to count things. For example, apples.Hi,

How many is a billion?

Is it correct? and if it is, is it a short form of 'how many zeros is a billion?

Thank you a lot.

How many is "ten"?

How many is "a billion"?

These are correct sentences, though I think the quotes are needed. This is what they ask:

How many apples is "ten apples"?

How many apples is "a billion apples"?

Neither sentence is asking how many zeroes are used to write the number (1, 9).

I should have given the context where I met this question. An instructor was teaching IP version 6. (And I think some of you here know that IP version 4 only gives us 2^32 addresses.)

He briefly mentioned IPv4 and then went on about how many more addresses IPv6 can give us. It gives us billions. And he asked, 'But how many is a billion?'

So I inferred that he wanted to know if learners knew how big a billion was.

Also, the question was shown on the slide so I cannot be wrong.

@dojibear

If I understand correctly, the singular 'is' is used because it can be rephrased like this

'Ten. But how many is that number?'

' You say a billion apples. But how many is that quantity?'

I think this is perhaps the only situation where 'how many' precedes the singular 'is'.

Thank you.