meter or meters race?

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happy12

Member
Australian English
Hi Guys!

Sometimes you see 100/200 etc meter race, and sometimes 100/200 etc meters race. Why do some people use the singular form and others the plural?

Many thanks!
 
  • Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    Possibly because these units (metres) are relatively new to the English speaking world, possibly because it makes little difference.
     
    Last edited:

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    For imperial units the singular form is generally used in adjectival phases ("ten-foot pole", "six-mile creek", "100-yard race"), though the plural form is also seen sometimes. The same lack of consistency seems to have carried over to these European units which have been imposed on us.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I think it is much more common to talk about the 100-metre* race (just like it was the 100-yard dash) in the past. I would punctuate them: 100-metre race (with a hyphen), 100 metres' race (with an apostrophe - but I still don't quite like this). If you leave out race, you could just say, 'He ran the hundred metres.'


    *metre is the usual BrE spelling
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I've never run such short races, but I've run a lot of 5-kilometer to 30-kilometer races (as well as many that weren't measured in metric distances, but that's irrelevant here). I don't recall ever seeing one that used the plural form of "kilometer."

    However, in a sentence such as "A five-mile race is slightly more than eight kilometers long," the plural would be correct.

    As Pertinax posted, we generally use the singular with adjectival phrases. I'd ask for three-inch nails in a hardware store, not three-inches nails. Cowboys wear ten-gallon hats*. And, the last time I bought potatoes, I bought them in a five-pound bag.

    _____________________
    *Their hats don't actually hold ten gallons, about 38 liters/litres, but that's what they're called.
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    I think it is much more common to talk about the 100-metre* race (just like it was the 100-yard dash) in the past. I would punctuate them: 100-metre race (with a hyphen), 100 metres' race (with an apostrophe - but I still don't quite like this). If you leave out race, you could just say, 'He ran the hundred metres.'
    I agree, but it's one of those many situations in which you can deceive yourself into thinking that whatever you've just heard conforms to the strictures of what you deem to be correct - as though the auditory system were automatically performing small scale micro translations on incoming data in order to compensate for 'deviant' forms, so's to assist you with your comprehension (and that this happens before you've even had a chance to start analysing).
    In this context we are not helped by the fact that the race that gets talked of most is the 'one hundred metre sprint', where the 's' of 'sprint' magically conditions the end of 'metre', and that it can be and often is shortened to the 'hundred metres', neither which problems exist in the case of the 'one hundred metre hurdles'.
     

    Xander2024

    Senior Member
    Russian
    By the way, just the other day I was greatly surprised to see a similar combination in a text about the history of the Olympic Games. Yes, it read something like "a 100-meters race":confused: At first I thought it a typo, but this combination repeated again and again.
     

    Xander2024

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I saw it in a workbook by a Russian author but more often than not they don't take the trouble of making up texts themselves, they just crib them from other sources. So it's hard to say who the real author of the text was.
     

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    Really? Where do you see "100 meters race"?
    http://museumvictoria.com.au/collec...ympic-athletics-trials-melbourne-october-1956
    Women's 100 Metres Race

    http://www.smh.com.au/multimedia/beijing08/100-metres/gallery.html
    The 100-metres sprint

    http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1580232/bolt-confident-before-100-metres-race
    Bolt confident before 100 metres race

    Admittedly these examples are Australian, which sometimes seems like a non-native language ;), but no doubt there are plenty of examples closer to home.
     

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE

    Safwanhm

    New Member
    Arabic
    The role is:
    if (the) or (a) comes before the numbers, we don't put the (s), like: the 100 meter race... I run the 100 meter race. (because 100 is noun here not a count).
    and if there is not (the) or (a) then we put the (s), like:100 meters race... I run 100 meters race. (here 100 is count of something).
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    The role is:
    if (the) or (a) comes before the numbers, we don't put the (s), like: the 100 meter race... I run the 100 meter race. (because 100 is noun here not a count).
    and if there is not (the) or (a) then we put the (s), like:100 meters race... I run 100 meters race. (here 100 is count of something).
    What makes you think this? As most native speakers on this thread have said, the usual form of meter/metre is singular, just like any other attributive noun.

    Since "race" is countable, an article or other determiner is essential in the singular, but you can run 100-metre races.
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I run 100 meters race. :thumbsdown: If you include the noun 'race' you need an article - 'a 100-metre race' or 'the 100-metre race'.

    I ran a/the 100-metre race. :thumbsup: Here 'race' is a noun and '100-metre' (note the hyphen) is an adjective.

    I ran 100 metres. :thumbsup:
    I ran the 100 metres. :thumbsup: Here '100 metres' is a noun, and is a common shortening of '100-metre race'.
     
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