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Referring to an exact number of things: numbers


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The Personal Pronoum
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The future continuous
British/North American Vocabulary
Verb forms and the formation of verb groups

Referring to an exact number of things: numbers

2.225 When you want to refer to an exact number of things, you use numbers such as 'two', 'thirty', and '777' which are called cardinal numbers, or sometimes cardinals.

I'm going to ask you thirty questions.

two hundred and sixty copies of the record.

The cardinal numbers are listed in the Reference Section and their use is explained in paragraphs 2.230 to 2.243.

2.226 When you want to identify or describe something by indicating where it comes in a series or sequence, you use an ordinal number, or an ordinal, such as 'first', 'second', 'fourteenth', or 'twenty-seventh'.

She received a video camera for her fourteenth birthday.

She repeated this escape for the second and last time.

The ordinal numbers are listed in the Reference Section and their use is explained in paragraphs 2.249 to 2.256.

2.227 When you want to indicate how large a part of something is compared to the whole of it, you use a fraction such as 'a third' and 'three-quarters'.

A third of the American forces were involved.

The bottle had been about three-quarters full when he'd started.

Fractions are explained in paragraphs 2.257 to 2.266.

2.228 When you want to refer to a size, distance, area, volume, weight, speed, or temperature, you can do so by using a number or quantifier in front of a measurement noun such as 'feet' and 'miles'.

He was about six feet tall.

I walked ten miles, there and back, to Woodbridge every day.

Measurement nouns are explained in paragraphs 2.267 to 2.274.

If you do not know the exact number, size, or quantity of something, you can give an approximate amount or measurement using one of a group of special words and expressions. These are explained in paragraphs 2.281 to 2.288.

2.229 When you want to say how old someone or something is, you have a choice of ways in which to do it. These are explained in paragraphs 2.275 to 2.288.

Referring to the number of things: cardinal numbers

2.230 If you want to refer to some or all of the things in a group, you can indicate how many things you are referring to by using a cardinal number.

The cardinal numbers are listed in the Reference Section.

By Christmas, we had ten cows.

When you use a determiner and a number in front of a noun, you put the determiner in front of the number.

the three young men.

my two daughters.

Watch the eyes of any two people engrossed in conversion.

All three candidates are coming to Blackpool later this week.

When you put a number and an adjective in front of a noun, you usually put the number in front of the adjective.

two small children.

fifteen hundred local residents.

three beautiful young girls.

'one' 2.231 'One' is used as a number in front of a noun to emphasize that there is only one thing, to show that you are being precise, or to contrast one thing with another. 'One' is followed by a singular noun.

That is the one big reservation I've got.

He balanced himself on one foot.

There was only one gate into the palace.

This treaty was signed one year after the Suez Crisis.

It was negative in one respect but positive in another.

'One' can also be used, like other numbers, as a quantifier.

One of my students sold me her ticket.

one of the few great novels of the century.

I was one of the most experienced organisers on campus.

'One' also has special uses as a determiner and a pronoun. These are explained in paragraph 1.234 and paragraphs 1.157 to 1.160.

2.232 When a large number begins with the figure '1', the '1' can be said or written as 'a' or 'one'. 'One' is more formal.

a million dollars.

a hundred and fifty miles.

Over one million pounds has been raised.

talking about negative amounts 2.233 The number 0 is not used in ordinary English to indicate that the number of things you are talking about is zero. Instead the negative determiner 'no' or the negative pronoun 'none' is used, or 'any' is used with a negative. These are explained in paragraphs 4.45 and  4.65 to 4.67.

numbers and agreement 2.234 When you use any number except 'one' in front of a noun, you use a plural noun.

There were ten people there, all men.

a hundred years.

a hundred and one things.

2.235 When you use a number and a plural noun to talk about two or more things, you usually use a plural verb. You use a singular verb with 'one'.

Seven guerrillas were wounded.

There is one clue.

However, when you are talking about an amount of money or time, or a distance, speed, or weight, you usually use a number, a plural noun, and a singular verb.

Three hundred pounds is a lot of money.

Ten years is a long time.

Three miles is generally taken to be the boundary of a country's airspace.

90 miles an hour is much too fast.

Ninety pounds is all she weighs.

Ways of measuring things are explained in paragraphs 2.267 to 2.274.

2.236 You can use cardinal numbers with both ordinals (see paragraphs 2.249 to 2.256) and postdeterminers (see paragraph 2.44). When you use a cardinal number with a determiner followed by an ordinal number or a postdeterminer, the cardinal number usually comes after the determiner and the ordinal or postdeterminer.

The first two years have been very successful.

throughout the first four months of this year.

the last two volumes of the encyclopedia.

in the previous three years of his reign.

Note that some postdeterminers can be used like ordinary classifying adjectives (see paragraph 2.44). When they are used like this, the cardinal number comes before them.

He has written two previous novels.

two further examples.

2.237 When either the context makes it clear, or you think that your listener already knows something, you can use the cardinal number without a noun.

Those two are quite different.

When cardinal numbers are used like this, you can put ordinal numbers, postdeterminers, or superlative adjectives in between the determiner and the cardinal number.

I want to tell you about the programmes. The first four are devoted to universities.

The other six are masterpieces.

The best thirty have the potential to be successful journalists.

2.238 When you use 'dozen', 'hundred', 'thousand', 'million', or 'billion' to indicate exact numbers, you put 'a' or another number in front of them.

a hundred dollars.

six hundred and ten miles.

a thousand billion pounds.

two dozen diapers.

2.239 When you use 'dozen', 'hundred', 'thousand', 'million', or 'billion' they remain singular even when the number in front of them is greater than one.

2.240 You can use 'dozen', 'hundred', 'thousand', 'million', or 'billion' without 'of' in a less precise way by putting 'several', 'a few', and 'a couple of' in front of them.

several hundred people.

A few thousand cars have gone.

life a couple of hundred years ago.

2.241 When you want to emphasize how large a number is without stating it precisely, you can use 'dozens', 'hundreds', 'thousands', 'millions', and 'billions' in the same way as cardinals followed by 'of'.

That's going to take hundreds of years.

hundreds of dollars.

We travelled thousands of miles across Europe.

languages spoken by millions of people.

We have dozens of friends in the community.

You can put 'many' in front of these plural forms.

I nave travelled many hundreds of miles with them.

USAGE NOTE 2.242 People often use the plural forms when they are exaggerating.

I was meeting thousands of people.

Do you have to fill in hundreds of forms before you go?

You can also emphasize or exaggerate a large number by using these words in qualifying prepositional phrases beginning with 'by'.

a book which sells by the million.

people who give injections by the dozen.

Calculators like this are now selling by the hundred thousand.

numbers as labels 2.243 Cardinal numbers can be used to label or identify things.

Room 777 of the Stanley Hotel.

Number 11 Downing Street.

numbers as quantifiers 2.244 You can also use cardinal numbers as quantifiers linked by 'of' to a noun group referring to a group. You do this when you want to emphasize that you are talking about a part or all of a group.

I saw four of these programmes.

Three of the questions today have been about democracy.

I use plastic kitchen bins. I have four of them.

All eight of my great-grandparents lived in the city.

All four of us wanted to get away from the Earl's Court area.

The clerk looked at the six of them and said, 'All of you?'

I find it less worrying than the two of you are suggesting.

Quantifiers are explained in paragraphs 2.194 to 2.210.

number quantifiers as pronouns 2.245 Cardinal numbers can be used to quantify something without the 'of' and the noun group, when it is clear what you are referring to.

a group of painters, nine or ten in all.

Of the other wives, two are dancers and one is a singer.

the taller student of the two.

breakfast for two.

numbers as qualifiers 2.246 Cardinal numbers can also be used after pronouns as qualifiers.

I am a woman, and you three are not.

In the fall we two are going to England.

numbers in compound adjectives 2.247 Cardinal numbers can be used as part of a compound adjective, (see paragraphs 2.98 to 2.107). The cardinal number is used in front of a noun to form a compound adjective which is usually hyphenated.

He took out a five-dollar bill.

I wrote a five-page summary of the situation.

Note that the noun remains singular even when the number is two or more, and that compound adjectives which are formed like this cannot be as complements. For example, you cannot say 'My essay is five-hundred-word'. Instead you would probably say 'My essay is five hundred words long'.

2.248 Cardinal numbers are sometimes used with general time words such as 'month' and 'week'. You do this when you want describe something by saying how long it lasts. If the thing is referred to with an uncount noun, you use the possessive form (see paragraphs 2.180 to 2.192) of the general time word.

She is already had at least nine months' experience.

On Friday she had been given two weeks' notice.

Sometimes the apostrophe is omitted.

They wanted three weeks holiday and three weeks pay.

The determiner 'a' is usually used when you are talking about a single period of time, although 'one' can be used instead when you want to be more formal.

She's on a year's leave from Hunter College.

She was only given one week's notice.

Cardinal numbers can also be used with general time words as modifiers of adjectives.

She was four months pregnant.

The rains are two months late.

His rent was three weeks overdue.

Referring to things in a sequence: ordinal numbers

2.249 If you want to identify or describe something by indicating where it comes in a series or sequence, you use an ordinal number.

Quietly they took their seats in the first three rows.

Flora's flat is on the fourth floor of this five-storey block.

They stopped at the first of the trees.

Note that you can also use 'following', 'last', 'next', 'preceding', 'previous', and 'subsequent' like ordinal numbers to indicate where something comes in a series or sequence.

The following morning he checked out of the hotel.

the last rungs of the fire-escape.

at the next general election.

The theory stated in the preceding chapters is invaluable.

I mentioned this in a previous programme.

the subsequent career patterns of those taking degrees.

'Following', 'subsequent', 'previous', and 'preceding' are only used to indicate the position of something in a sequence in time or in a piece of writing. 'Next' and 'last' are used more generally, for example to refer to things in rows or lists.

The ordinal numbers are listed in the Reference Section.

2.250 Ordinals are often used in front of nouns. They are not usually used as complements after link verbs like 'be'. They are usually preceded by a determiner.

the first day of autumn.

He took the lift to the sixteenth floor.

on her twenty-first birthday.

his father's second marriage.

In some idiomatic phrases ordinals are used without determiners.

The picture seems at first glance chaotic.

I might. On second thoughts, no.

Almost all babies—especially first babies—have fretful spell.

written forms 2.251 Ordinals can be written in abbreviated form, for example in dates or headings or in very informal writing. You write the last two letters of the ordinal after the number expressed in figures. For example, 'first' can be written as '1st', 'twenty-second' as '22nd', 'hundred and third' as '103rd', and 'fourteenth' as '14th'.

on August 2nd.

the 1st Division of the Sovereign's Escort.

the 11th Cavalry.

ordinals with 'of' 2.252 You can specify which group the thing referred to by an ordinal belongs to by using the preposition 'of' after the ordinal.

This is the third of a series of programmes from the University of Sussex.

Tony was the second of four sorts.

When ordinals are used like this, they usually refer to one person or thing. However, when they are used with a 'to'-infinitive clause of another qualifying phrase or clause after them, they can refer to one person or thing or to more than one. 'First' is used like this more than the other ordinals.

I was the first to recover.

They had to be the first to go.

The proposals—the first for 22 years— amount to a new charter for the mentally ill.

the fashion in which Theodore treats the Europeans, the first he has encountered.

as pronouns 2.253 You can use an ordinal to refer to a member of a group that you have already mentioned or to something of the kind already mentioned, and you can omit the noun which identifies the thing.

In August 1932 two of the group's members were expelled from the party and a third was suspended.

The third child tries to outdo the first and second.

A second pheasant flew up. Then a third and a fourth.

2.254 The adjectives 'next' and 'last' can be used, like ordinals, by themselves when the context makes the meaning clear.

You missed one meal. The next is on the table in half an hour.

Smithy removed the last of the screws.

ordinals used as adverbs 2.255 The ordinal 'first' is also used as an adverb to indicate that something is done before other things. Other ordinals are also sometimes used to indicate the order in which things are done, especially in informal English. People also use ordinals as adverbs when they are giving a list of points, reasons, or items. This is explained fully in paragraph 10.79.

2.256 The use of ordinals in expressing fractions is explained in paragraphs 2.258 and 2.260. The use of ordinals to express dates, as in 'the seventeenth of June', is explained in paragraph 5.87.

Ordinal numbers can be used in front of cardinal numbers. This is explained in paragraphs 2.236 to 2.237.

Referring to an exact part of something: fractions

2.257 When you want to indicate how large a part of something is compared to the whole of it, you use a fraction, such as 'a third', followed by 'of' and a noun group referring to the whole thing. Fractions can also be written in figures (see paragraph 2.265).

2.258 When you express a fraction in words, the way you do so depends on whether the fraction is singular or plural. If it is singular, you write or say an ordinal number or the special fraction terms 'half' or 'quarter', with either the number 'one' or a determiner such as 'a' in front of them. The fraction is linked to a noun group by 'of'.

This state produces a third of the nation's oil.

a quarter of an inch.

You can take a fifth of your money out on demand.

A tenth of the working population will be writing material for computers.

Forests cover one third of the country.

one thousandth of a degree.

one quarter of the total population.

An adjective can also be placed after the determiner and before the fraction.

the first half of the twentieth century.

I read the first half of the book.

the southern half of England.

in the last quarter of 1980.

2.259 If you are using 'half' in front of a pronoun, you still use 'of' after the 'half'.

Nearly half of it comes from the Middle East.

More than half of them have gone home.

Half of us have lost our jobs.

Note that when the fraction 'a half' is used with 'of' as a quantifier you usually write or say it as 'half' without a determiner. 'A half' and 'one half' are rarely used.

They lost half of their pay.

Half of the people went to private schools.

I had crosses more than halt of America.

2.260 If the fraction is plural, you put a cardinal number in front of a plural form of the ordinal number or special fraction word 'quarter'.

the poorer two thirds of the world.

The journey is going to take three quarters of an hour.

four fifths of the money.

Nine tenths of them live on the land.

..3 millionths of a centimetre.

When 'half' is used with whole numbers or amounts, it is used with the determiner 'a'.

one and a half acres of land.

four and half centuries.

agreement with verb 2.261 When you talk about fractions of a single thing, you use a singular form of a verb afterwards.

Half of our work is to design programmes.

Two thirds of the planet's surface is covered with water.

Two fifths of the forest was removed.

However, when you talk about fractions of a number of things, you use a plural form of a verb afterwards.

Two thirds of Chad's exports were cotton.

A quarter of the students were seen individually.

Nearly half of Jakarta's one million workers are in the informal sector.

fractions as pronouns 2.262 When it is clear to your listener or reader who or what you are referring to, either because of the context or because you and your listener or reader know what is meant, you can use fractions as pronouns without the quantifying 'of' and noun group after them.

Of the people who work here, half are French and half are English.

Two thirds were sterilized.

One fifth are appointed by the Regional Hearth Authority.

numbers followed by fractions 2.263 Besides their use as quantifiers linked by 'of' to a noun group, fractions can, also be used after a whole number or amount plus 'and', with a noun placed after the fraction. The noun must be plural even if the number is 'one'.

You've got to sit there for one and a half hours.

five and a quarter days.

more than four and a half centuries ago.

If you are using 'a' instead of 'one', the 'and' and m fraction come after the noun.

a mile and a half below the surface.

a mile and a quarter of motorway.

'half' as predeterminer 2.264 Besides being used with 'of' as a quantifier, 'half' can also be used as a predeterminer, (see paragraph 1.236), directly in front of a determiner.

I met half the girls at the conference.

The farmers sold off half their land.

half a pound of coffee.

half a bottle of milk.

Note that 'half' is always used with 'of' before a pronoun (see paragraph 2.259).

fractions expressed in figures 2.265 You can write a fraction in figures, for example '1/2', '1/4', '3/4' and '2/3'. These correspond to 'a half', 'a quarter', 'three quarters' and 'two thirds' respectively.

2.266 Fractions are often given in a special form as a number of hundredths. This type of fraction is called a percentage. For example 'three hundredths', expressed as a percentage, is 'three per cent'. It can also be written as 'three percent' or '3%'. 'A half' can be expressed as 'fifty per cent', 'fifty percent', or '50%'.

90 percent of most food is water.

About 20 per cent of student accountants are women.

Before 1960 45% of British trade was with the Commonwealth.

You can use percentages on their own as noun groups when it is clear what they refer to.

Ninety per cent were self employed.

interest at 10% per annum.

Talking about measurements

2.267 You can refer to a size, distance, area, volume, weight, speed, or temperature by using a number or quantifier in front of a measurement noun. Measurement nouns are countable.

They grow to twenty feet.

blocks of stone weighing up to a hundred tons.

Reduce the temperature by a few degrees.

Average annual temperatures exceed 20 centigrade.

Other ways of expressing distance are explained in paragraphs 6.71 to 6.72. Measurement nouns referring to size, area, volume, and weight are often used in partitive structures (see paragraphs 2.211 to 2.224) such as 'a pint of milk' and 'a pound of onions'. They can also be used as qualifiers beginning with 'of' (see paragraph 2.300).

2.268 There are two systems of measurement used in Britain—the imperial system and the metric system. Each system has its own measurement nouns.

Here is a list of the imperial units of measurement indicating size, distance, area, volume, and weight:

















Note that the plural of 'foot' is 'feet', but 'foot' can also be used with numbers. Similarly 'stone' is often used instead of 'stones'.

Here is a list of the metric units of measurement indicating size, distance, area, volume, and weight:
















2.269 Measurement nouns are often used as the complements of link verbs such as 'be', 'measure' and 'weigh'.

The fish was about eight feet long.

It measures approximately 26 inches wide x 25 inches long.

a square area measuring 900 metres on each side.

It weighs fifty or more kilos.

The use of adjectives as the complements of link verbs is explained in paragraphs 3.133 to 3.138.

adjectives after measurements 2.270 When measurement nouns that give the size of something are used as complements, they can often be followed by an adjective which makes it clear exactly what the measurement refers to.

He was about six feet tall.

The spears were about six foot long.

a room 2 metres wide.

The water was fifteen feet deep.

a layer of stone four metres thick.

Here is a list of the adjectives that follow measurement nouns indicating size:








Note that you do not say 'two pounds heavy' but 'two pounds in weight' instead.

prepositional phrases after measurements 2.271 Similarly, some measurement nouns can be followed by prepositional phrases beginning with 'in'.

a block of ice one cubic foot in size.

I put on nearly a stone in weight.

They are thirty centimetres in length.

deposits measuring up to a kilometre in thickness.

It was close on ten feet in height.

Here is a list of prepositional phrases used after measurements:

in area

in depth

in distance

in height

in length

in size

in thickness

in volume

in weight

in width

measurement nouns used as modifiers 2.272 Measurement nouns can also be used as modifiers in front of a noun when you want to describe things in terms of their measurements.

a 5 foot 9 inch bed.

70 foot high mounds of dust.

12 x 12 inch tiles.

a five-pound bag of lentils.

Note that the measurement noun is singular.

USAGE NOTE 2.273 If you want to describe fully the size of an object or area, you can give its dimensions: that is, you give measurements of its length and width, or length, width, and depth. When you give the dimensions of an object, you separate the figures using 'and', 'by', or the multiplication sign 'x'.

planks of wood about three inches thick and two feet wide.

The island measures about 25 miles by 12 miles.

Lake Nyasa is 450 miles long by about 50 miles wide.

The box measures approximately 26 inches wide x 25 inches deep x 16 inches high.

inches nigh.

If you are talking about a square object or area, you give the length of each side followed by the word 'square'.

Each family has only one room eight or ten feet square.

The site measures roughly 35 feet square.

'Square' is used in front of units of length when expressing area. 'Cubic' is used in front of units of length when expressing volume.

a farm covering 300 square miles.

The brain of the first ape-men had been about the same size as that of a gorilla, a round 500 cubic centimetres.

You express temperature in degrees, using either degrees centigrade or degrees Fahrenheit. Note that in everyday language the metric term centigrade is used to indicate temperature, whereas in scientific language the term 'Celsius' is used which refers to exactly the same scale of measurement.

2.274 You talk about the speed of something by saying how far it can travel in a particular unit of time. To do this, you use a noun such as 'mile' or 'kilometre', followed by 'per', 'a', or 'an', and a time noun.

The car could do only forty-five miles per hour.

Wind speeds at the airport were 160 kilometres per hour.

Warships move al about 500 miles per day.

Talking about age

2.275 When you want to say how old someone is, you have a choice of ways in which to do it. You can be exact or approximate. Similarly, when you want to say how old something is, you can use different ways, some exact, and some approximate.

2.276 When you want to talk about a person's exact age, you can do so by using

• 'be' followed by a number, and sometimes 'years old' after the number

I was nineteen, and he was twenty-one.

I'm only 63.

She is twenty-five years old.

I am forty years old.

• 'of' (and less commonly 'aged') and a number after a noun

a child of six.

two little boys aged about nine and eleven.

• a compound adjective, usually hyphenated, consisting of a number, followed by a singular noun referring to a period of time, followed by 'old'

a twenty-two-year-old student.

a five-month-old baby.

Mr Watt's rattling, ten-year-old car.

a violation of a six-year-old agreement.

• a compound noun consisting of a number followed by '-year-old'

The servant was a pale little fourteen-year-old who looked hardly more than ten.

All the six-year-olds are taught by one teacher.

Melvin Kalkhoven, a tall, thin thirty-five-year-old.

indicating approximate age 2.277 When you want to talk about a person's age in an approximate way, you can do so by using

• 'in', followed by a possessive determiner, followed by a plural noun referring to a particular range of years such as 'twenties' and 'teens'

He was in his sixties.

I didn't mature till I was in my forties.

the groups who are now in their thirties.

when I was in my teens.

Note that you can use 'early', 'mid-', 'middle', or 'late' to indicate approximately where someone's age comes in a particular range years.

He was then in his late seventies.

She was in her mid-twenties.

Jane is only in her early forties.

• 'over' or 'under' followed by a number

She was well over fifty.

She was only a little over forty years old.

There weren't enough people who were under 25.

Note that you can also use 'above' or 'below' followed by 'the age of' and a number.

55 per cent of them were below the age of twenty-one.

• a compound noun indicating a group of people whose age is more or less than a particular number, which consists of 'over' or 'under' followed by the plural form of the particular number

The over-sixties do not want to be turned out of their homes.

Schooling for under-fives should tie expanded.

2.278 You can put several of the above structures after a noun to indicate the age of a person of thing.

a woman in her early thirties.

help for elderly ladies over 65.

She had four children under the age of five.

2.279 If you want to indicate that someone's age is similar to someone else's age, you can use structures such as 'of his age' and 'of her parent age' after a noun. The 'of' is often dropped.

In France most folk of Mike's age are doing their National Service.

It's easy to make friends because you're with people of your own age.

She will have a tough time when she plays with children her own age.

indicating the age of a thing 2.280 If you want to say what the age of a thing is, you can use

• 'be' followed by a number followed by 'years old'

It's at least a thousand million years old.

The house was about thirty years old.

Note that you can also use this pattern after a noun.

rocks 200 million years old.

• a compound adjective indicating the century when something existed or was made, which consists of an ordinal number and 'century'

a sixth-century church.

life in fifth-century Athens.

Approximate amounts and measurements

2.281 If you do not know the exact number, size, or quantity of something, you can give an approximate amount or measurement using one of a group of special words and expressions. Some of these words and expressions are put in front of a quantity and some are put after it.

Here is a list of some of the words and expressions used to give approximate amounts and measurements:



a maximum of

a minimum of



at least

at most

at the maximum

at the most

less than



more than


no more than


or less

or more

or so

or thereabouts

or under




something like


up to

2.282 Some of these indicate that a number is a minimum figure and that the actual figure is or may be larger.

Here is a list of expressions which indicate a minimum number:

a minimum of

at least


more than

or more



2.283 You put 'a minimum of', 'more than', and 'over' in front of a number.

He needed a minimum of 26 Democratic votes.

a school with more than 1300 pupils.

The British have been on the island for over a thousand years.

You put 'or more' and 'plus' after a number or amount, and 'minimum' after an amount.

a choice of three or more possibilities.

This is the worst disaster I can remember in my 25 years plus as a police officer.

They should be getting £38 a week minimum.

You put 'at least' in front of a number or after a number or amount.

She had at least a dozen brandies.

I must have slept twelve hours at least!

2.284 Some of these expressions are used to indicate that a number is a maximum figure and that the actual figure is or may be smaller.

Here is a list of expressions which indicate a maximum number:


a maximum of

at most

at the maximum

at the most

less than



no more than

or less

or under


up to

USAGE NOTE 2.285 You put 'almost', 'a maximum of', 'less than', 'nearly', 'no more than', 'under', and 'up to' in front of a number.

The company now supplies almost 100 of Paris's restaurants.

These loans must be repaid over a maximum of three years.

a puppy less than seven weeks old.

She had nearly fifty dollars.

We managed to finish the entire job in under three months.

Their bodies might be up to a metre wide.

You put 'at the maximum', 'at most', 'at the most', 'maximum', 'or less', and 'or under' after a number.

They might have IQs of 10 or 50 at the maximum.

The images take thirty-six hours maximum.

The area would yield only 200 pounds of rice or less.

12 hours a week or under.

expressing approximate amounts 2.286 Some of these expressions are used to indicate that a number is approximate and that the actual figure could be larger or smaller.

Here is a list of the expressions indicating that a number is approximate:





or so

or thereabouts



something like

USAGE NOTE 2.287 You put 'about', 'approximately', 'around', 'roughly', 'some', and 'something like' in front of a number.

About 85 students were there.

Every year we have approximately 40 pupils who take mathematics.

It would cost around 35 million pounds.

It costs roughly £55 a year to keep a cat in food.

They have to pay America some $683,000 this year.

Harrington has cheated us out of something like thirty thousand quid over the past two years.

You put 'odd' and 'or so' after a number or amount, and 'or thereabouts' after an amount.

a hundred odd acres.

For half a minute or so, neither of them spoke.

Get the temperature to 30C or thereabouts.

2.288 You can indicate a range of numbers using 'between' and 'and', or 'from' and 'to', or just 'to'.

Most of the farms around here are between four and five hundred years old.

My hospital groups contain from ten to twenty patients.

peasants owning two to five acres of land.

Note the use of 'anything' before 'between' and 'from', to emphasize how great the range is.

An average rate of anything between 25 and 60 per cent is usual.

It is a job that takes anything from two to five weeks.



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