The distance [...] is 0.5 foot/feet.

mhp

Senior Member
American English
In the Spanish-English grammar forum, there is an interesting discussion going on about units of measurements when the quantity of what is being measured is between 0 and 1, exclusive; for example, 0.5 foot/feet. How do you write this?

The distance between points A and B is 0.5 foot.
The distance between points A and B is 0.5 feet.

To be clear, this is not about adjectival usage such as a 0.5-foot-tall elf. I apologize if this has been discussed previously in this forum; I couldn't find any prior threads.
 
  • Majorbloodnock

    Senior Member
    British English
    Personally, I can't think of a time when I would talk about a distance of half a foot. My take would be:

    • 0.5 feet - I'd say half a foot if really pushed, but 6 inches under normal circumstances.
    • 1.5 feet - I'd normally say either 18 inches or a foot and a half.
    • 2.5 feet - I'd talk about two and a half feet.
     

    Spira

    Banned
    UK English
    No, he means that he would express a division of a foot in the unit measurement of inches.
    Like choosing to say 4 pints instead of half a gallon.
    Or 50 cents instead of half a dollar.
     

    preppie

    Senior Member
    American English (Mostly MidAtlantic)
    It depends:

    I would say, "One and half feet" but "A foot and a half"

    I would say "Half a foot" (if I had to use feet/foot) but would usually say six inches. If I had to use .5 then I would write it as ".5 feet".
     

    Majorbloodnock

    Senior Member
    British English
    No problem, mhp. What I mean is that, whilst I often measure distance in miles, yards, feet and inches, I don't refer to anything less than a foot in terms of fractions of a foot. Instead, I work in a smaller unit - inches. The same applies for yards, where I won't talk about half a yard, but one and a half feet instead.

    However, I'm happy to talk about half a mile, and am happy to talk in terms of fractions of almost any metric unit (half a metre, half a centimetre etc.).
     

    Majorbloodnock

    Senior Member
    British English
    Half an hour
    Half a mile
    Quarter of a pint
    A third of a ton.

    As I mentioned before, this only seems relevant for imperial measurements, and now I've had the chance to reflect, it's probably because 0.5 is a metric expression. A simple fraction seems to sit better with imperial units than a decimal point. Purely my opinion, of course....
     

    mhp

    Senior Member
    American English
    I'm sorry, I deleted my previous post before seeing your reply. It did not contain any new information. :)
     
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