Singular/plural - numbers (0<x<1)

cheshire

Senior Member
Japanese
(1) zero point/points
(2) zero degree/degrees
(3) 0.35 degree/degrees
(4) 0.3 hour/hours
(5) 0.6 meter/meters
(6) 0.6 gram/grams
(7) 0.6 mile/miles
Numbers less than 1, are they singular or plural?
 
  • evilregis

    Senior Member
    English, Canada
    A unit of 1 is singluar. Anything else is plural.

    1 apple. 2 apples. 0 apples.
    10 degrees. -30 degrees. 1 degree.

    At least that's how I've always said it.
     

    roxcyn

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English [AmE]
    A unit of 1 is singluar. Anything else is plural.

    1 apple. 2 apples. 0 apples.
    10 degrees. -30 degrees. 1 degree.

    At least that's how I've always said it.

    I have to agree.

    There are no apples = There are zero apples.

    Maybe you don't say that in your language, some languages don't, but English does.
     

    evilregis

    Senior Member
    English, Canada
    Yes. In the proper context, you could say "there is no apple".

    Guy: Could you please grab that apple for me?
    Girl: There is no apple.
    Guy: I guess we have no apples then.

    Hope that isn't too confusing. She could've also said "There are no apples."

    "Is" is singular, so you use the singular for apple.
     

    Jumps

    New Member
    Japanese
    Wait, so we're supposed to say something like "Half an apple are not enough for the salad"? I'm OK with "There are no apples," but "half an apple are" really sounds weird.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Wait, so we're supposed to say something like "Half an apple are not enough for the salad"?
    No. Vulgar fractions have their own rules; they aren't used like ordinary numbers. However, zero point five apples are not enough for the salad (not, of course, that anyone would say this).
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'Half an apple' or 'half of an apple' has a different structure to '0.5 apples'. With 'half', there is something that is modifying the singular 'an apple': it is half of [an apple]. But decimal fractions are simply numbers: in grammatical structure, '0.5 apples' is like 'two apples', a number and a noun. And (rather oddly) we use plural for all numbers except one itself.
     

    Jumps

    New Member
    Japanese
    Thank you, Uncle Jack and entangledbank! I've been saying things like "0.5 points" because that's how you guys say these things, but recently a colleague of mine pointed out half an apple is half an apple. Come to think of it, "zero apples" means grammatical plurality in English indicates "nonsingularity," and "half an apple is" is an exception made to avoid saying "an apple are." I used to wonder about "there is more than one...," and this second example helps me conclude there are things that native speakers of English really don't want to say. Thanks!
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Vulgar fractions can be tricky. We tend to use a different kind of dividing between singular and plural forms from the one we use with decimals, based on the sense of the noun. For example, you can have "half an apple is not enough", "half (of) the apples are rotten" and in BrE you can also use plural verbs for singular nouns involving people: "Half (of) the team do three quarters of the work". The same "rule" applies even when the noun is omitted, and you can say "half is not enough" when referring to an apple and "half are rotten" when referring to a number of apples.

    It is exceptionally rare to use vulgar fractions for quantities larger than one, and I cannot think of a good example, but I think we would always use a plural, the same as we would if it were expressed in some other way: "seven thirds of an apple are too much".

    I have not found a general thread on vulgar fractions, but there are a number of threads on specific vulgar fractions, including this one:
     
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