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If I'm not mistaken, score can mean "a group or set twenty".

What I don't understand is why you say for example "Four score and seven years ago...", instead of saying "four scores" (since there are four groups of twenty years).

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2 Answers 2

up vote 22 down vote accepted

The word score follows the same rule that applies for the words dozen, hundred, thousand and million. When they are used with a number to denote exact quantity, their form doesn't change, e.g. we say two hundred, ten thousand, three dozen, five million.

The plural form with these words is used when the number denoted isn't exact and we just want to emphasise the fact that there are many items, e.g. hundreds of years ago, dozens of times, etc.

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Thanks for your reply. I hadn't thought about it that way, but after reading your answer it makes perfect sense. –  alemartini Jan 15 '12 at 20:57

It's the same reason we don't say "Two hundreds dollars". The number, whether twenty or eleven thousand three hundred, refers to the years, not to the 'groups of years'. Nobody would say *four tens years; you can say four decades, precisely because a decade is ten years. But a score is just twenty and cannot (in this sense) be pluralized.

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Thank you for your reply. You've mentioned the case that I had in mind. I got confused thinking that if Lincoln had used in his speech the term decade instead of score, he would have used the plural form. Your answer, as well as the one given by Irene, make the difference between those words clear. –  alemartini Jan 15 '12 at 21:03

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