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    #1

    Singular or plural????

    Hi all!
    I was wondering if you could help me solve this dilemma.
    Two distinguished forum members, who are both native speakers, have given me conflicting views on this grammar point, so I'm hoping to hear from other 'native speakers' so that I can (try to) draw my own conclusions.
    Your contribution wil be highly appreciated.

    Amounts of money are considered singular in English, thus:

    Where is the ten dollars I lent you?
    This is the ten dollars you lent me.

    So far so good, all the native speakers I have contacted, confirmed this.

    However, when the speaker is referring to the actual number of coins or banknotes (bills, for our American friends), views differ....

    There were ten dollars on the table this morning.

    Some forum members claim the above sentence is correct, others say it is just plain wrong. How can the perception of such a simple sentence vary so much among speakers of the same language???

    Please, help me understand!!!
    Thank you!!

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Singular or plural????

    Quote Originally Posted by wace View Post
    However, when the speaker is referring to the actual number of coins or banknotes (bills, for our American friends), views differ....

    There were ten dollars on the table this morning.

    Some forum members claim the above sentence is correct, others say it is just plain wrong. How can the perception of such a simple sentence vary so much among speakers of the same language???

    Please, help me understand!!!
    Thank you!!
    I don't think anyone would disagree with "There were ten dollar notes on the table this morning".
    "There were ten dollars" sound wrong to me, because we don't call dollar bills or dollar coins (which we have) 'dollars'.
    If there is a dollar coin on the table:
    What is that? That is a dollar coin. Generally not That is a dollar.
    If there are two dollar coins on the table:
    What are they? They are two dollar coins. OR They are two coins. But generally not They are two dollars.

    Actually, now that I say it a few times, "dollar" work better for a coin than it does for a note.
    So, There were ten dollars on the table this morning might work better for coins than notes. And obviously, it works better for some people than others.

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    #3

    Re: Singular or plural????

    Ok, so, if I understood you correctly, by simply adding coins or notes to the amount of dollars, pounds, euros and what have you, the sentence will sound a lot more natural.

    ex: 'There are three ten-euro notes on the table. Are they yours?'

    Does the above sentence sound correct (and natural)?


    • Join Date: Jul 2009
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    #4

    Re: Singular or plural????

    Quote Originally Posted by wace View Post
    Hi all!
    I was wondering if you could help me solve this dilemma.
    Two distinguished forum members, who are both native speakers, have given me conflicting views on this grammar point, so I'm hoping to hear from other 'native speakers' so that I can (try to) draw my own conclusions.
    Your contribution wil be highly appreciated.

    Amounts of money are considered singular in English, thus:

    Where is the ten dollars I lent you?
    This is the ten dollars you lent me.

    So far so good, all the native speakers I have contacted, confirmed this.

    However, when the speaker is referring to the actual number of coins or banknotes (bills, for our American friends), views differ....

    There were ten dollars on the table this morning.

    Some forum members claim the above sentence is correct, others say it is just plain wrong. How can the perception of such a simple sentence vary so much among speakers of the same language???

    Please, help me understand!!!
    Thank you!!
    Let's take a look at this and see if it helps any.

    I put the ten dollars you lent me on the table.

    What about the ten from the week before?

    Oh, that ten dollars is on your desk.

    I didn't see it there. Not "I didn't see them"

    Well, it was there this morning.

    It was? Not "they were?"

    Yes, the ten dollars was there this morning. Not "the ten dollars were there"

    You're telling me there was ten dollars on my desk this morning?

    Yes, I put it there. Not "I put them there".

    There was ten dollars on your desk this morning, and I know because I put it there. Not "because I put them there".


    I would remain consistent and consider sums of money singular. So as one would not say "those ten dollars", referring to one sum, it seems illogical to say "there were ten dollars", unless one were to say "there were ten one-dollar bills on the table".

    One can see the confusion here. It's counterintuitive to say "was", a singular verb, and immediately follow it with "ten".

    I would also say this: What native speakers of English say they say when they stop to think about it might, possibly, not be what they really say or have been saying all along. This is possible.
    Last edited by PROESL; 06-Sep-2009 at 19:32. Reason: didn't need a hypen

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    #5

    Re: Singular or plural????

    Proesl,
    absolutely brilliant!!
    I have duly copied down every single sentence of the dialogue you provided. It really puts the whole thing in context! Thank you!

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Singular or plural????

    Quote Originally Posted by wace View Post
    Ok, so, if I understood you correctly, by simply adding coins or notes to the amount of dollars, pounds, euros and what have you, the sentence will sound a lot more natural.

    ex: 'There are three ten-euro notes on the table. Are they yours?'

    Does the above sentence sound correct (and natural)?
    Yes, it sounds natural to me.

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