To the question, "How much does this cost?" which of the following answers is/are grammatically correct (at least informally)?

  1. Two pound forty.
  2. Two pounds forty.
  3. Two pound forty penny.
  4. Two pounds forty penny.
  5. Two pound forty pence.
  6. Two pounds forty pence.

Is the answer the same if "pound/pounds/penny/pence" is replaced with "dollar/dollars/cent/cents"?

  • Welcome to EL&U. Please edit your question to give context: what is the reason for the question. Also, please edit to share your research on the matter. This will help anyone who tries to answer your question. Thanks. – MetaEd Jan 21 '13 at 15:10
  • I don’t see why the question needs any “context”. It is a perfectly fine question by itself. – Timwi Jan 21 '13 at 15:12
  • Where I am from, "two forty" is commonly used. This is somewhat strange because without context it is not possible to tell between $240 and $2.40. – thang Jan 21 '13 at 16:43
  • possible duplicate of Why don't we pluralize "foot" in measurements? I think grammatically, "Two pound forty" is no different to "Six foot three", a point which is made in comments to the earlier question. – FumbleFingers Jan 21 '13 at 18:48
  • @MετάEd: I agree with Timwi that this question can stand sufficiently well without extra context, but if you or anyone else wish to know, I was unsure because I was taught that two pounds forty (pence) is correct though it's common to hear six foot two, instead of six feet two when asked for one's height. – Gnubie Jan 21 '13 at 18:57

Informally, you're likely to hear 1, 2, 5 & 6.

A bit more formally though, you'd likely hear 2 and 6. Pounds are a countable noun, so we use the plural.

However, pounds and other units of currency can also be used as a measurement. The "five-dollar milkshake" in "Pulp Fiction" isn't a grammatical error. Likewise, we would say "a two pound-forty milkshake" rather than a "two pounds-forty milkshake".

Is the answer the same if "pound/pounds/penny/pence" is replaced with "dollar/dollars/cent/cents"?

The plural of the English name for some currencies is the same as the singular, (e.g. yuan, yen, won, baht), so the equivalent examples have nothing to tell them apart.

The Italian lira had lire as the plural even in English, so the same rules applied, but with an unusual plural. It was replaced by the euro in 2002.

The euro is the strangest case. By law, all Eurozone states must use euro as the singular of the currency, but may spell it according to the rules of the language or languages including other scripts (hence ევრო, евро, ευρώ, eòra and various other forms in different languages that are all pronounced "euro"). The word is also declined according to the rules of a given language.

For some reason that is not entirely clear, euro was used as the plural form in English-language EU legislation. This was likewise followed by Irish law (Ireland and Malta are both Eurozone countries with English as an official language). It was then in turn followed by news articles and information campaigns in the run-up to the currency's adoption.

This was objected to on linguistic grounds by some, including this one-man campaign.

It was conceded that normal English pluralisation by adding an -s can be used. It's also common just because that's how English words are most often pluralised. But it remains in the form euro in much official literature.

The net result of all this, is that the euro-equivalents of forms 2 & 6 in your question could have the word spelled euro or euros, and there remain some with strong opinions one way or the other.

  • Many thanks! +1 for very informative information on other currencies — wish I could give you more points! – Gnubie Jan 21 '13 at 18:51

If by grammatically correct you mean likely to be used by a native speaker, then, at least in speech, all might occur except 3 and 4. You might also hear two pound(s) and forty pence.

  • how does one hear (s)? is it pronounced or not? – thang Jan 21 '13 at 16:40
  • @thang Yes, it is pronounced or not! The form (s) means that you sometimes get the s, and sometimes do not. So pound(s) is a shorthand for "sometimes pound and sometimes pounds". – Jon Hanna Jan 21 '13 at 16:51
  • I see, so it is probabilistic, not a shortened version of -s. – thang Jan 21 '13 at 16:53
  • It was just a short way of writing two pound, two pounds and forty pence. – Barrie England Jan 21 '13 at 18:36
  • Thanks, I've heard two pounds and forty pence but not two pounds and forty pence. I wonder how that and two pound forty pence came about. – Gnubie Jan 21 '13 at 18:49

In terms of informal everyday usage, from your list you’re most likely to hear no. 1 or 2. However, in England, in my opinion you’re much more likely to simply hear:

Two forty.

It would generally be accepted amongst the population that would refer to two pounds and forty pence, the pounds and pence are not always spoken.

To be technically correct, it would most likely be:

Two pounds and forty pence.

  • When there are only two units of currency, I think it's normal to omit the smaller in most informal contexts; when the larger is 100 times the smaller, even the larger unit may be omitted provided the amount isn't a multiple of 100 and the smaller unit is non-zero. An amount like $547.32 would be spoken as "five forty-seven thirty-two", but $547.00 would be spoken as "five hundred forty-seven dollars", and $500.32 would likely be spoken as "five hundred dollars and thirty-two cents". – supercat Jan 19 '15 at 19:58

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