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Like how $x000 can be referred to as "several thousand dollars", and $x00 can be referred to as "several hundred dollars", and $x "several dollars", what about $x0?

I've looked at this similar question: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/16356/how-to-use-tens-of-and-hundreds-of but it's not exactly the same, because it doesn't involve "several".

The suggestion from that question, "several dozen dollars", does sound a little bit better than "several ten dollars". Is that the preferred approach?

However, what about bigger numbers? I can say "several hundred thousand dollars", but both "several ten thousand dollars" and "several dozen thousand dollars" sound weird.

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There's the word scores, but I don't think it works well with "dollars". You could say, though, "There were scores of protesters in the park," if there were 50 or 60 people there. –  J.R. Feb 1 at 19:36
    
the real solution here is to just try and blame whoever changed the meaning of dozen from 'approximately ten' to 'twelve'. you could also start speaking Vietnamese, which has the convenient word chục, meaning "about ten", but in context can be understood to mean "exactly ten" (there is a separate numeral word meaning only "exactly ten"); then you can say mấy chục, meaning "a few chục" or "between ten and a hundred". –  jlovegren Feb 1 at 20:13
    
@J.R. Numerically, score means twenty. –  bib Feb 1 at 22:27
    
@bib, yes, it does. That's why it works great for expressing an indeterminate amount over forty, which might work for many of the O.P.'s needs, if tens sounds awkward for some reason. –  J.R. Feb 1 at 23:19
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@JanusBahsJacquet don't you hate it how whenever you bother to check in the dictionary, you're right, but whenever you're confident that you don't need to check, you're wrong? –  jlovegren Feb 2 at 2:16

5 Answers 5

I think the reason we don't say several tens of dollars is that there's no need to estimate numbers in that range.

To put it another way, if we would say several thousand people, then the emphasis is on the thousands, and we don't really care exactly how many. The instances where we do care how many dollars mitigate the usefulness of this type of a construction. The difference between say $30 dollars and $300 both of which fit under several tens of dollars is significant.

Note I can imagine saying several tens to refer to several 10 dollar bills in a context where I'm not concerned with their transaction value directly.

The drug dealer had a wad of several tens.

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+1 urban dictionary example lol –  d'alar'cop Feb 2 at 1:09
    
I'd disagree that there's no need to estimate numbers in that range. It is actually extremely useful to do so. Similar to jlovegren’s Vietnamese example, it is very common in Chinese to use the pseudo-numeral 几 ji ‘several’ with other numerals. “How many people were there?” — “Oh, 几十个 (a few tens) or so, I'd say”, for example, for occasions where you're not really sure if there were 25 or 43 people there. Most useful. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 2 at 1:54

I think it's as simple as this: there's already "dozens" and "several dozen". Those are traditional, the "d" and "l" combination sounds better, it's somewhat imprecise ("baker's dozen"). And "tens" and "several tens" do get used, typically in a scientific context.

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I agree about using "dozens"... I think it wouldn't lead to any loss of precision –  d'alar'cop Feb 2 at 7:27

You could say 'several tens of thousand dollars'. It seems to work better than 'several tens of dollars'. But I think in Britain I wouldn't bother saying 'several tens of pounds', I'd just say something like 'fifty or sixty quid'!

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The use of the word "several" could be considered redundant.

Several tens of dollars

or more succinctly

Tens of dollars

is appropriate, although as @WS2 pointed out, a more precise number would feel less "strange"

at least 50 dollars

Also, "tens of" is commonly used to humorously or sarcastically represent a low number:

Wow, there must be TENS of people here!

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I think "several tens of" could suggest "at least 30" and is semantically different than "tens of".

Some data that follows might suggest counter-intuitive results regarding usage in comparison with "several dozen of". In Google searches, "Several tens of dollars" is about four times as popular as "several dozens of dollars" and "several dozen dollars" combined:

A Google NGram search (1) shows only a few "several tens of dollars" (many of which may be a translation of a Chinese idiom) and no "several dozen dollars".

On the other hand, another Google NGram search (2) shows "several dozen" being more popular than "several tens of", as expected. However, "several tens of" is much more popular in non-fiction than it is in fiction, where "several dozen" shows an opposite trend. A quick review of the books indicates that "several tens of" is popular among technical journals; this makes sense because in that case accuracy trumps prosody.

This analysis suggests that "several tens of" could be an acceptable form, especially in technical and other non-fictional writing. Also, "several tens of dollars" seems to be more popular than "several dozens of dollars", but this is only a gross analysis.


NGram 1 = several tens of dollars,several dozen dollars,several dozens of dollars

NGram 2 = several dozen of,several tens,several dozens of,several dozen,several dozens of:eng_fiction_2012,several dozen:eng_fiction_2012,several tens of,several tens of:eng_fiction_2012

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