English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Say, for example, I'd like to express that I have four complete six-slice pizzas and one with five out of six slices. Would I say "I have 29/6 pizzas"? "4 and 5/6 of a pizza" for mixed fractions?

share|improve this question
Related 0.25 mile or 0.25 miles?‌​... Still about "fractions" but this one treats about improper/mixed fractions so I guess it's not a dupe... – Alenanno Jun 14 '11 at 0:50
I'd like to point out that in significant portions of the U.S., the unit of pizza is a "pie". One cannot refer to a pizza. – user362 Jun 14 '11 at 2:17
In the northwest U.S., I would say that referring to part of "a pizza" is very common. – Eri Jun 14 '11 at 2:44
In California, we definitely refer to the unit as "a pizza", not as "a pie". – MT_Head Jun 14 '11 at 6:17
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Generally one uses only a fraction when expressing a ratio: 1/6 of a pizza, 1/3 of a pizza; it seems reasonable to extend this to improper fractions because you are comparing the amount of pizza you have to a "standard" size. However, using an improper fraction is discouraged in general and therefore would be somewhat jarring to use "naked", so I'd be inclined to write it out in some fashion: "I have twenty-nine sixths of a pizza" (longest, but best) or "I have 29 6ths of a pizza" (shortest and rather poor-looking, and can still easily cause a pause for interpretation) over "I have 29/6 of a pizza" (forces the reader to stop and figure out what you mean, which is just bad).

If you eliminate the improper fraction, it's no longer a ratio and therefore is best expressed as a plural: "I have 4 and 5/6 pizzas."

share|improve this answer
...though contrast half a pizza and 0.5 pizzas. – Henry Jun 14 '11 at 1:09

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.