1. ## equal or equals?

two thirds (equal / equals) thirty-three point thirty-three.
Thank you.

2. ## Re: equal or equals?

Originally Posted by Samia Khalaf
two thirds (equal / equals) thirty-three point thirty-three.
Would you say, "It equals" or "They equal"?

______________
Related topic "two and two is/are four": see page 921-922 here.

3. ## Re: equal or equals?

Originally Posted by Soup
Would you say, "It equals" or "They equal"?
A good question, and one I asked myself before deciding I would not respond originally.

If I think of the fraction 2/3, then I see it as a singular figure, and would say, "two thirds equals nought point six six (recurring).

On the other hand, I think that I would say, "One third equals nought point three three (recurring); two thirds equal nought point six six (recurring)". In that statement I would feel a change from singular to plural.

I am not sure whether this is standard BrE practice or personal idiosyncrasy.

What would you say in these two situations?

4. ## Re: equal or equals?

Originally Posted by fivejedjon
What would you say in these two situations?
Either singular or plural works for me. It seems to depend on how a person interprets the fraction, either as a singular unit (is/equals) or as a plural part of a unit (are/equal):

• Two-thirds is yours.
• Meaning, that fraction is yours.
• Two-thirds are yours.
• Meaning, two parts are yours.

Are they both grammatical? Yes. The pattern learners are taught (see below) is based on the presence of a noun:

• singular verb with mass nouns
• plural verb with plural nouns
• singular or plural verb with collective nouns

When the noun is left unstated, however, is where learners run into problems:

• Two-thirds of the milk is yours.
• Two-thirds of the cookies are yours.
• Two-thirds is/are yours.

As for me, I prefer this explanation: Singular or plural verb with numbers, percentages and fractions - Topic

5. ## Re: equal or equals?

Originally Posted by Samia Khalaf
two thirds (equal / equals) thirty-three point thirty-three.
Thank you.

***** NOT A TEACHER *****

(1) The teachers seem to be telling us that either singular/plural is

"correct" -- depending on what you are thinking.

(2) You may wish to consider what I found in a Google e-book

(from the year 1908) entitled The Inland Printer: Volume 40:

Nine times out of ten, "two-thirds" does not mean two individual

thirds but one quantity equal to two third portions put together.

(That is why the book tells printers to use a hyphen between

"two" and "thirds.")

(3) I am a learner like you, so I understand that you want a rule to

give you confidence. In such a sentence such as yours, you would

probably always be "correct" if you used the singular.

P.S. If a of- phrase follows "two-thirds," however, that is a different

matter. Study the excellent examples given us by Teacher Soup.

6. ## Re: equal or equals?

Originally Posted by TheParser

(from the year 1908) entitled The Inland Printer: Volume 40:
Nothing against your post as such but I wouldn't consult books from 1908 for grammar in 2011.

7. ## Re: equal or equals?

I'm struggling to make two thirds equal 33.33.

#### Posting Permissions

• You may not post new threads
• You may not post replies
• You may not post attachments
• You may not edit your posts
•