twos/threes/tens/hundreds/etc. (of something)

Discussion in 'Suomi (Finnish)' started by Gavril, Oct 10, 2012.

  1. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Moippa kaikille,

    If I’m not mistaken, the plural of a numeral can be used to express sets of the corresponding number:

    Tuhannet ihmiset osallistuivat kyselyyn
    Thousands of people participated in the survey”

    Ratsiassa takavarikoitiin satoja aseita
    Hundreds of weapons were confiscated in the raid”

    But, the plural of a numeral can have a different meaning when the word following the numeral has a “pre-defined” plural quantity (kädet, saappaat, luistimet etc.):

    Kuluneena vuonna olen myynyt satoja luistimia
    ”I’ve sold hundreds of pairs of skates in the past year” (As opposed to, ”I’ve sold hundreds of skates in the past year”)

    Kangasta kutovat sadat kangaspuut
    ”The fabric is woven by a hundred looms” (As opposed to, “The fabric is woven by hundreds of looms”)

    Is it true that the above sentences are (technically) ambiguous as to the quantity of the items?

    One more question: if you said,

    Talven vuoksi tilaan liikkeeseeni kaksi tuhatta käsineitä

    would it mean ”I’m ordering 2,000 pairs of gloves to sell at my shop this winter”?

  2. Finland Senior Member


    Yes it is. You can only make the distinction if you are talking about "one hundred skates" versus "a hundred pairs of skates", but not if talking about "hundreds of (pairs of) skates": Olen myynyt sata luistinta vs. sadat luistimet.

    The sentence is actually wrong. A translation of your sentence in English would be: "Tänä talvena tilaan kauppaani myytäväksi kahdet tuhannet käsineet." If you were to order 2 000 gloves, you would say: "Tänä talvena tilaan kauppaani myytäväksi kaksi tuhatta käsinettä."

  3. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    It occurred to me that there can also be ambiguity between, e.g., hundreds of skates, hundreds of pairs of skates, and one hundred pairs of skates:

    Odotan satojen luistimien toimitusta

    "I'm expecting a shipment of hundreds of (pairs of) skates" / "I'm expecting a shipment of 100 pairs of skates"

    Is it true that all three readings are possible? Which interpretation would you say is the most likely?

    (Or, would Finnish speakers simply not use a sentence as ambiguous as this one?)

    Kiitos vielä kerran
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2012
  4. Finland Senior Member


    Although this sentence does not sound particularly natural, it is not at all inconceivable. Despite several theoretically possible interpretations, all natives would understand this as "I'm expecting a shipment of hundreds of pairs of skates" – because hey, who would order a shipment of hundreds of single individual skates instead of pairs? The difference would come out in a more natural formulation: Meille toimitetaan pian satoja luistimia ~ sadat luistimet ~ sata luistinta.


Share This Page