# The room is four chairs short

#### Xavier da Silva

##### Senior Member
Hello everyone,

I've already asked a question here about ''short'' meaning ''having less than what is needed'', but it was in a different context, so I guess that I'm supposed to start a new thread on this one. In the sentence ''The room is four chairs short'' I know there are fewer chairs than there should be in the room. But I'm still not sure about the reasons why. So here are my conclusions.

a. Possibility 1: The room is four chairs short. [My conclusion: There are four fewer chairs in the room because they still haven't bought all the necessary chairs.]
b. Possibility 2: The room is four chairs short. [My conclusion: There are four fewer chairs in the room because someone took the four chairs to another room or stole them.]

My question: Am I correct in my conclusions 1 and 2 above?

• #### JulianStuart

##### Senior Member
Up to "because" you are correct. The words beyond "because" are not communicated by the original sentence. Both reasons are possible and we don't know why there aren't enough chairs.

#### Xavier da Silva

##### Senior Member
So when I say ''The room is four chairs short'' the reason could be ''still haven't bought all of them, someone took them to another room, someone stole them, etc.'' All of these could be possible, right?

#### Aguas Claras

##### Senior Member
Yes. It simply means that four more chairs are needed. There is no indication at all of why. It could be any of the reasons suggested or any other reason, e.g. four additional people are coming.

#### kentix

##### Senior Member
Yes, the phrase only works if a number of chairs is specified (directly or indirectly)* for some reason. Any time the number you have is less than the specified number, you are short. It's just that simple. Why and how that is the case are irrelevant to the sentence. You either have the specified number or you don't.

How to solve that problem, or whether you can solve that problem, depends on the overall context. But the sentence itself is independent of that. It simply states an observable fact.

*
- we need 25 chairs (direct)
- we need six chairs per table (indirect)

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#### CaptainZero

##### Senior Member
I agree with all the respondents' comments above, but "the room is four chairs short" while correct enough, does seem just a little odd to me, because a room can't really be short of anything - it's the people who need the chairs who are short of them. So I'd rather opt for "We're four chairs short", or something similar. Or am I being too pedantic?

#### kentix

##### Senior Member
If you are a person like me who in the past has had jobs where I had to set up conference rooms for meetings beforehand with a certain arrangement of tables and chairs then it might sound more natural. There are no people there at the time. The shortage is based on the plan and that many people might not even show up.