Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

When talking about time as a unit, which one is correct, in second or in seconds?

For example:

How long does it take to complete the task in second?

or

How long does it take to complete the task in seconds?

share|improve this question

closed as too localized by FumbleFingers, RegDwigнt Mar 14 '12 at 17:58

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
I think this is general reference –  FumbleFingers Mar 14 '12 at 17:56

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The correct form is in seconds:

Please specify the time in seconds (in minutes, in days, in years, etc).

share|improve this answer
    
I agree, however I think a more interesting question is whether or not to pluralise the units when stating a figure. i.e. 23 Metres or 23 Metre. –  Urbycoz Mar 14 '12 at 13:34
    
@Urbycoz: The length of the cloth is 23 meters. Why would it be 23 meter? –  Armen Ծիրունյան Mar 14 '12 at 13:36
    
@Armen. It would be a 23 meter race not a 23 meters race. –  artfullyContrived Mar 14 '12 at 13:44
2  
@artfullyContrived: Indeed, because in this case it acts like an adjective, not a noun. A 12 year old boy is playing in the street. The boy that's playing in the street is 12 yearS old. –  Armen Ծիրունյան Mar 14 '12 at 13:45
    
@Armen. I agree that's what people tend to say in practice, but it's debatable. The argument is that scientifically "metre" is only there to denote the units. It should never be pluralised. You would always write 23m, never 23ms. –  Urbycoz Mar 14 '12 at 14:11

Use the plural, "seconds".

In general, when you do not know whether the number of something is one or more than one, you use the plural.

Like, "How many people attended the meeting?", NOT "How many person attended the meeting?"

Even if the number is most likely one: "Polygamy is illegal here, but the number of wives Bob has is unknown." NOT "number of wife".

share|improve this answer

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