the number of cars had a slight decrease

kira_moondance

Senior Member
Vietnamese
In Australia, the number of cars had a slight decrease to 341,268 in 2006.

I wrote the sentence above to describe a table (The table below shows the number of cars made in three countries in 2003, 2006 and 2009.Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.)

I googled the phrase "had a slight decrease to" and the results showed examples like these.
However, Pennsylvania had a slight decrease to the larceny/theft arrests. (PCCD ORESPD)
.... Vietnam only had a slight decrease to 5.4% growth at that time. (Vietnam)
In these examples, the subjects were names of a state and a country. Using "the number of something" or the amount of something" as a subject would not be appropriate here. Should I change "had" into "experienced", "saw" or "witnessed" instead?

In Australia, the number of cars experienced/saw/witnessed a slight decrease to 341,268 in 2006.
 
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Of the verbs you propose, I would use 'saw'

    In Australia, the number of cars saw a slight decrease to 341,268 in 2006.
    I might be inclined to make 'decrease' the verb:

    In Australia, the number of cars decreased slightly to 341,268 in 2006.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I always disliked this kind of sentence. If there is a "to" there should be a "from". Leaving one or the other out is a disservice to the reader. Including both makes this a simple question to answer.

    My first understanding of this sentence was that there were a total of 341,268 motor vehicles in Australia. That is clearly not true. The actual number in the last vehicle census is 18.8 million.

    So the only preposition that makes sense is "by". "In Australia the number of cars decreased by 341,268 in 2006."

    Or say,"Vehicle registrations went from 18,800,000 to 18,458,732."


    Note: I can only find recent Australian motor vehicle registrations, but I doubt it changed by 55 times in the intervening years.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    In Australia, the number of cars had a slight decrease to 341,268 in 2006.
    "... had a slight decrease..." is what is known as a "periphrastic light verb": a periphrastic verb (to have) is used with a noun (decrease.)

    It is used occasionally instead of using the normal construction:

    "In Australia, the number of cars decreased slightly to 341,268 in 2006"

    The periphrastic light verb alternative is not wrong, but it is more a stylistic form.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    "... had a slight decrease..." is what is known as a "periphrastic light verb": a periphrastic verb (to have) is used with a noun (decrease.)

    It is used occasionally instead of using the normal construction:

    "In Australia, the number of cars decreased slightly to 341,268 in 2006"

    The periphrastic light verb alternative is not wrong, but it is more a stylistic form.
    Are you saying that ...

    "In Australia, the number of cars decreased slightly to 341,268 in 2006"

    Means the same thing as:

    "In Australia, the number of cars decreased slightly by 341,268 in 2006"

    I'm not buying into that interpretation. Perhaps that is a UK/USA difference.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Are you saying that ...
    No. I am merely copying and pasting the OP's example for grammatical purposes. As there are about 24 million people in Australia, and only 12% are under 19yrs, then "by" probably is more accurate statistically, although about the same grammatically. :)
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    No. I am merely copying and pasting the OP's example for grammatical purposes. As there are about 24 million people in Australia, and only 12% are under 19yrs, then "by" probably is more accurate statistically, although about the same grammatically. :)
    The ratio of cars to population is about the same in Australia as in the USA. A little over 80 percent of the population has cars (numerically). Obviously children don't own cars and some adults have several. But that is the ratio and it is similar in both countries.

    Compare that with Zambia with 700 + cars and 300 + motorcycles vs. population of 16.9 million residents.

    (I tried first China, but the data was not available, then India, but the data was indecipherable, so I settled on the next country that came to mind.)
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The table in the OP is about "the number of cars made" (in each year) not "the number of cars" (existing in each year). Try not to be distracted by a mistake in the first post.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    There's got to be more than 700 cars in Zambia! Anyway, the OP has heavily edited his question and all evidence of my innocence has gone!:mad:
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    There's got to be more than 700 cars in Zambia! Anyway, the OP has heavily edited his question and all evidence of my innocence has gone!:mad:
    The accuracy is not certified by Packard. My original source for this information could not be found. It looks like 370. These are passenger cars. There are far more trucks than cars.

     

    kira_moondance

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese
    Thank you for all of your answers.

    This thread has turned into something else though. If I remember correctly, I didn't edit this question, or else there would be some word or phrase indicating it such as "edited" at the end of the first post.

    I've just realized that I should have written "the number of cars produced" instead of "the number of cars". Putting that aside, I merely described the statistics in that table, so I believe "decreased to" is the correct in this case.

    What I learned from the posts was that using a verb is preferred.
    "In Australia, the number of cars decreased slightly to 341,268 in 2006"

    Another thing I learned was that using the structure where "decrease" is used as a noun is periphrastic and the sentence "In Australia, the number of cars saw a slight decrease to 341,268 in 2006" is correct.

    However, what I still don't understand is that whether "In Australia, the number of cars had a slight decrease to 341,268 in 2006" is correct.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    "In Australia, the number of cars had a slight decrease to 341,268 in 2006". :cross:

    "In Australia, the number of cars produced showed a slight decrease from 352,891 in 2005 to 341,268, in 2006".
    "In Australia, in 2006, the number of cars produced showed a decrease of 0.8% over the previous year."

    "In Australia, , there was a slight decrease in car production, which was down from 352,891 in 2005 to 341,268 in 2006".

    There are also several other ways of expressing this using a noun.
    .... Vietnam only had a slight decrease to 5.4% growth at that time. (Vietnam)
    This is not idiomatic but that may be because (a) it is not a full sentence, (b) there is some other context not quoted. (I did not click on the link.)
     

    Scrawny goat

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    "In Australia, the number of cars had a slight decrease to 341,268 in 2006". :cross:

    "In Australia, the number of cars produced showed a slight decrease from 352,891 in 2005 to 341,268, in 2006".
    "In Australia, in 2006, the number of cars produced showed a decrease of 0.8% over the previous year."

    "In Australia, , there was a slight decrease in car production, which was down from 352,891 in 2005 to 341,268 in 2006".

    There are also several other ways of expressing this using a noun.
    This is not idiomatic but that may be because (a) it is not a full sentence, (b) there is some other context not quoted. (I did not click on the link.)
    My thoughts exactly. "Pennsylvania had a slight decrease to the larceny/theft arrests " sounds very odd to me also. I never use this construction and, despite reading many reports, have never seen it either.
     
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