Number-Noun Modifiers

Combine a number and a noun as a modifier

ladder
 

 

Number vs. Number-Noun Modifiers

NUMBER MODIFIER

A number, a determiner,  tells us how many items are in the set.  In this sense, it is a modifier.  When the number is two or above, the noun takes the plural form.

NUMBER

The ladder has five steps.
move rightmodifies word to the right S

The program has a step(determiner)
The program has one step(cardinal number) 

The book has two hundred pages

Bruce's workout lasted five minutes.

Bruce worked ten days.  

NUMBER + NOUN MODIFIER

When a number and noun are combined to modify a noun, no plural form is used in the modifier.  Modifiers rarely take the plural form.

MODIFIER

It is a five-step ladder.
move rightmodifies word to the right

It is a one-step program.

It was a two-hundred-page book.

It was a five-minute workout.

It was a ten-day job.
 

 

numbers — numeral determinatives  

cardinal numbers — one, two, three… ; ordinal numbers — first, second, third…

(Swan 386.5)

Hyphenating numbers  Use a hyphen to link numbers twenty-one to ninety-nine.

Spelling out numbers   See below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hyphens

Linking Modifiers

 

 

 

Hyphen Use

NUMBER-NOUN

A hyphen is used when a word in a series modifies the following word, and together the linked words modify the noun.  The numbers below are modifiers.

NUMBER (MODIFIER)

I have six-step ladders.
(I have a few ladders, which have six steps.)
six-stepladders

NUMBER–NOUN (MEASUREMENT)

I saw four-foot cactuses (cacti).
(Each one measured four feet.)
4-foot high cactus4-foot high cactus

NUMBER

No hyphen is used when each word modifies the following word in a series of modifiers. The numbers below are determiners specifying quantity.

NUMBER (DETERMINER

I have six¹ stepladders.
(I have six ladders. The number of steps varies.)
six stepladders

DETERMINER   NOUN–ADJ

I saw four foot-high² cactuses (or cacti).
(There were four. Each measured one foot.)

4 one-foot cacti

 

stepladder (n.) — a word form that combines step + ladder

¹A number is a determiner that specifies quantity, two or above. In contrast, a modifier tells us how many.

²See  Modifiers to Ad(tall, high, wide, long, deep, old, etc.)

Related page Irreg Plural Nouns   (cactus, cacti)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Word Numbers

Arabic vs. Spelled Numbers

 

 

 

Numbers in symbols, addresses, math, brand names, and more

ARABIC NUMBERS

Use numbers when writing a paper that calls for frequent use of numbers – scientific, statistical, findings. (technical context)

LARGE NUMBERS

There were 99 children in the study about brand names. (scientific context)

(AP – 172   Spell out numbers below 10; MLA – depends on context)

 

IN A PAPER LISTING NUBERICAL FINDINGS – STATISTIC OR SCIENTIFIC DATA

There were 10 children in the study about brand names. (scientific context)

 

AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SENTENCE

* 10 children preferred the McDonald's hamburger.
In the group, 10 children preferred the McDonald's hamburger. (word order re-arranged)

 

WITH ABBREVIATIONS, DECIMALS & SYMBOLS

Over 90% of the children chose the well-known brand. (scientific context)
The hamburger weighed 4.2 oz. and cost $5.99. (scientific context)

  

IN DATES

The project began in 2008.

* 2008 marked the beginning of the project.

 

IN ADDRESSES

She lives at 300 Hillsdale Avenue.

 

IN RELATED NUMERICAL EXPRESSIONS

*The group consisted of 55 boys and four girls. 
The group consisted of 55 boys and 4 girls. (scientific context)
We have 5 dogs, 11 cats and 1 rabbit. (some numbers are over 10)

 

VERY LARGE NUMBERS

Lucky Hamburgers sold 1.3 billion hamburgers last year. (combine numerals and words)

 

IN THE NAMES OF ORGANIZATIONS AND PRODUCTS

Century 21 Theaters
7-Eleven stores
3M office products
501 jeans  
WD-40  (lubricant)

SPELLED NUMBERS

Spell out small numbers and numbers in nontechnical contexts (when few numbers will be mentioned). Avoid using Arabic numerals at the beginning of a sentence.

SMALL NUMBERS

There were ninety-nine children in the study about brand names. (literary context)

(CMOS – 9.3 Spell out whole numbers one through one hundred; MLA – depends on context).)

IN A PAPER MENTIONING FEW NUMBERS – NONTECHNICAL

Little Women is a story about four girls.  (literature)

 

Ten children preferred the McDonald's hamburger.

 

 

I would estimate that ninety per cent of them were green.  
The quarter-pound hamburger cost six dollars(round-off the numbers)

 

 

Two thousand eight marked the beginning of the project. (at the beginning of the sentence)

 

Three hundred ten Hillsdale Avenue is a new retirement community. (when the address is the building's name, or is used at the beginning of the sentence.)

 

The group consisted of fifty-five boys and four girls.  (Express related numbers in the same style within a sentence or paragraph.)
We have two dogs, one cat and one rabbit.  

 

Lucky Hamburgers sold 1.3 billion hamburgers last year.  (combine numerals and words)

   

 

After Eight candy
One a Day vitamins
Saks Fifth Avenue department store
Six Flags amusement parks
Three Brothers Taqueria

 

*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutionsweight lifter

 

 

Error and Solution

ERROR

*He lifted a 300 pounds  weight.

 

*It was nine pounds  baby.

*There are twelve millions people in my city.

 * It was 9 pound  baby. 

  *It was built ninety nine years ago.

That seventy years old man can run a marathon race.

SOLUTION

He lifted a 300-pound weight. / He lifted a three-hundred-pound weight.

It was a nine-pound baby  (Use the singular noun from as the modifier.)

There are twelve-million people in my city.

It was a nine-pound baby 
Spell out numbers under 10 or 100. See below.

It was built ninety-nine years ago.
Hyphenate numbers 21 - 99: twenty-one, ninety-nine, fifty-five, etc.)

That seventy-year old / seventy-year-old man can run… Hyphenate (link) the modifiers to the head (main) noun.

 

*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.

See  Modifiers to Ad(tall, high, wide, long, deep, old, etc.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar Notes

Hyphen guidelines in style manuals

 

 

Style Manual Comments

ASSOCIATED PRESS STYLEBOOK (AP) GREGG REFERENCE MANUAL

Spell out numbers below 10, use figures for 10 and above. Spell out a numeral at the beginning of a sentence (unless it identifies a calendar year).  If necessary, rephrase the sentence. (AP  172)

"Spell out numbers 1 to 10; use figures for numbers above 10.... Use figures— even for numbers 1 through 10 (as in this sentence) — when they have technical significance or need to stand out for quick comprehension.…Use the same style to express related numbers above and below 10. If any of the numbers are above 10, put them all in figures. (GREGG 401-6) 
AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION (APA) MODERN LANGUAGE ASSOCIATION (MLA)

"Use numbers to express (a.) numbers 10 and above; (b) numbers in the abstract of a paper or in a graphical display within a paper; (c) numbers that immediately precede a unit of measurement; (d) numbers that represent statistical or mathematical functions, fractional or decimal quantities, percentages, ratios, and percentiles and quartiles.; (e) numbers that represent time, dates, ages, scores and points on a scale, exact sums of money, and numerals as numerals (ex. in approx. expressions); (f) numbers that denote a specific place in a numbered series… (APA 4.31)

 

Recommends using numbers in scientific or statistical papers, but spelled-out numbers when writing about literature or other subjects with infrequent use of numbers.  (MLA 3.5.2) 

CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE  

"In general, in nontechnical contexts, spell out whole numbers one through one hundred, round numbers and any number beginning a sentence. For other numbers, numerals are used.  "Consistency must sometimes give way to readability." (CMOS  9.3)

 

 

 

 

Resources 

 

Style Manual Abbreviations (used in this website)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Modifying with numbers

 

 

 

Choose the correct word form for the number.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or the "check 1-20" button.

 

1.
trip

2.

3.
basketball player
sink – toss, throw the ball (into the hoop)

4.

make –  successfully complete (a throw)

5.
Golden Gate Bridge

6.

7.
high-heels

8.

9.
HD TV

10.

11.
Dobosh Torte

12.

13.

watt – unit of power

14.

15.
I like to have two bacon and eggs

16.

17.
compact car

18.

19.
Dinner

course (n.) – one of the separate parts of a meal (appetizer, entrée, salad, vegetable, or dessert)

20.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

An Oil for Almost Everything!WD-40

 

 

Read for Errors

WD-40 is the trademark name of an oil spray designed to repel water and prevent corrosion. In nineteen fifty-three, it was developed by Norm Larsen, founder of the Rocket Chemical Company, San Diego, California. WD-40 stands for "Water Displacement – 40th Attempt". WD-40's formula is a trade secret, but it is believed to be: 50% mineral spirits; 25% liquefied petroleum gas; 10 per cent mineral oil, and 9 per cent inert ingredients.  Almost every household keeps a can of this product with a 101 uses. The company went public in 1973.  Its NASDAQ stock is valued at over $320 million

In recent years the WD-40 company has acquired several household-products companies, adding such brand names as 3-In-One Oil, Lava, Spot Shot, X-14, Carpet Fresh, and 2000 Flushes to its roster. The product has some whacky uses as well: (1) attracting fish to bait, (2) preventing squirrels from climbing poles, (3) removing chewing gum from surfaces, (4) removing a ring stuck on a finger, (5) preventing dead insects from sticking to a car, (6) freeing a tongue stuck to frozen metal in winter, (7) repelling dogs and flies from garbage cans.

stands for (v.) – represents, is a shorter or another name for

attempt (n.)–  a try

repel (v.) – the opposite of attract, resist, keep off our out

corrosion (n.) –   rust, the red or orange coating that forms on the surface of iron when exposed to air and moisture

attempt (n.) – a try or effort

liquid (adj.) – in the form of a liquid (water, milk, etc.) instead of a gas or solid

liquefied (adj.) –  a substance (solid) that has been changed to a liquid

inert (adj) – having little or no ability to react 

NASDAQ – an electronics tock exchange ; "National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations" 

roster (n.) – list of acquired-company names within the parent company

whacky (adj.) – crazy and unexpected

 

 

 

Decide if a spelled number (letters) or an Arabic number should be used.

 

21.
WD-40 is the trademark name of an oil spray designed to repel water and prevent corrosion.

     

22.
In nineteen fifty-three, it was developed by Norm Larsen, founder of the Rocket Chemical Company, San Diego, California.


23.
WD-40 stands for "Water Displacement – 40th Attempt"

   

24.
WD-40's formula is a trade secret, but it is believed to be: 50% mineral spirits; 25% liquefied petroleum gas; 10 per cent mineral oil, and 9 per cent inert ingredients.

   

25.
Almost every household keeps a can of this product with a 101 uses.

   

26.
The company went public in 1973. Its NASDAQ stock is valued at over $320 million.

   

27.
In recent years the WD-40 company has acquired several household-products companies, adding such brand names as 3-In-One Oil, Lava, Spot Shot, X-14, Carpet Fresh, and 2000 Flushes to its roster.

   

28.
The product has some whacky uses as well: (1) attracting fish to bait, (2) preventing squirrels from climbing poles, (3) removing chewing gum from surfaces, (4) removing a ring stuck on a finger, (5) preventing dead insects from sticking to a car, (6) freeing a tongue stuck to frozen metal in winter, (7) repelling dogs and flies from garbage cans.