# 1.1-1.9, plural or singular?

10 replies
1 2
I cannot think of better examples so here are some bad ones:

1. My son is 1.5 year old/ years old.
2. It costs 1.9 dollar/dollars.

So, which one is correct?

Thanks!
Junior Member70
Both should be plural. Only if you were writing about 1 only, would it be singular.
so - 1. My son is 1/5 years old.
2. It costs 1.9 dollars.

Now if they were singular
1 My son is 1 year old
2 It cost 1 dollar.
Full Member159
well, as far as my knowledge is concerned, I would say:

1. My son is 1.5 year old.
2. It costs 1.9 dollar.
New Member07

I was told plural is when the number is higher than 2 but I am not sure.

Thanks.
Hello Gilysse, and welcome to Englishforums!

First, let me say I am neither a native speaker, nor an expert in the English language.

Second: I post here an excerpt from an article where the rule you mentioned (but which states that numbers greater than 1 or smaller than -1 must be followed by plural verbs) is called into question:
The prescription for agreement between a value and its unit of measurement has always struck me as a hyper-extension of logic that defies observation. Although I am an editor by profession, I recently had the enriching experience of having my work secondedited. On a page here and there, the editor changed units of measurement from plural to singular, stating that if the value is greater than 1 or less than -1, then the unit should be plural. If the decimal value is between 1 and -1 (inclusive), then the value is singular. So, she revised "0.54 ohms" to "0.54 ohm," for example.

I had run across this rule before while working with a translator. He insisted on the rule because it made sense to him. But organic grammar objects. If we were to report decimal values between 1 and -1 (also called decimal fractions) by relying on organic grammar, we would invariably, I argue use plural units unless the value were 1 or -1 (although I have my doubts about -1).

Note that the Chicago manual of style (1993) and the APA publication manual (2001) are silent on this topic. However, Chicago does follow the prescriptive rule in one example of using numerals with SI units: "So too, 0.003 cubic centimeter is preferably written 3 m[m.sup.3], not 0.003 c[m.sup.3]" (p. 481, emphasis added).

My hypothesis is that any decimal value between 1 and -1 is naturally treated by speakers and writers as a plural and should thus take a plural unit of measurement.
The author goes on with an experiment aimed at demonstrating that native speakers (in his experiment, engineers ans measurement raised in the USA) will generally use the plural with any decimal number, irrespective of that prescriptive rule.

If this may help, I also post the link to an old thread of mine where one of our experts here wrote that "0.5 hectares" is idiomatic http://www.englishforums.com/English/ProperWords2/dnchx/Post.htm and to another thread you might find useful: http://www.englishforums.com/English/125MillionS/zvnjk/post.htm

I hope somebody will comment on this, because I too am interested in this discussion. Thanks for raising this question!
Senior Member4,115
Jeannie1Both should be plural. Only if you were writing about 1 only, would it be singular.
so - 1. My son is 1/5 years old.
2. It costs 1.9 dollars.

Now if they were singular
1 My son is 1 year old
2 It cost 1 dollar.

I don't know how you can say it was not answered. Jeannie answered your question exactly. "Both should be plural."
gilysseI was told plural is when the number is higher than 2 but I am not sure.
No. Anything higher than 1.
AWSwell, as far as my knowledge is concerned, I would say:

1. My son is 1.5 year old.
2. It costs 1.9 dollar.

No. My son is one and half years old. It cost 1.9 dollars.

Veteran Member26,543
Grammar GeekNo. My son is one and half years old. It cost 1.9 dollars.
I would say it the same way. I agree with GG, I mean.
No, wait. I don't agree that anything higher than 1 is plural. I would say "anything that is not 1".

zero grams.
zero point five grams.
one point five grams.
one gram.

But:
half a gram.
one fourth of a gram.
Veteran Member5,652
Heh heh - I'm pretty sure there was a thread way back when, when I said I would use plural for zero point something, and others -- and I swear you were one of them -- said "oh no! that's singular." I too would say (as Tanit's reference says) zero point five grams. But mostly I was objecting to the statement of having to be more than two to be plural.
gilysse1. My son is 1.5 year old/ years old.
2. It costs 1.9 dollar/dollars.
So, to sum everything up:
1. My son is one and a half years old.
2. It costs one point nine dollars.
(That isn't a very idiomatic way of stating a price, however. We would usually say something such as "a dollar ninety".)
Veteran Member7,021