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I'm writing a letter to my friends and I want to make some parts of it sound more impressive and say in one part of the letter

"thousands of <something>"

Can I say so if is actually in order of 1,500?

From English language perspective, can I say "thousands of < items > (something)" when it's just "1,500"?

For example,

"thousands of dollars" when I mean 1,500 dollars.

Or

"thousands of nails" when I mean 1,500 nails.

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  • Outside of the general freedom to say whatever you want, so long as you don't care what other people think, no. What you can say is "I've got a five-figure income!", which could mean anything from $10,000/year to $99,999/year (all numbers in that range have five digits), but most people assume when you're saying it in a confident, proud way, you mean the high end.
    – Dan Bron
    Nov 25, 2014 at 18:48
  • Thanks. I don't want to lie but I want to make it more impressive. Would I be able to say "thousands of dollars" if it was 1) 1,999, 2) 2,000, 3) 2,001?
    – bodacydo
    Nov 25, 2014 at 18:50
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    Just some general advice --not language related: Don't do this unless you want to receive back "thousands" of requests for loans! Nov 25, 2014 at 18:53
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    Boasting about something that is clearly false is never wise. Thousands of dollars, I would automatically assume is anything over $2,000.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 25, 2014 at 19:28
  • There is a very much on-topic question somewhere in here, but clearly not in the current wording. You can say anything you want. And by the way: if you wanted to make it sound more impressive, you should say you are making billions a day. Thousands a month is not impressive at all. I am being paid a trillion just for copy-pasting this comment from my ghostwriter, who actually gets paid thousands of dollars a month, and you are the first person I learn of that earns less than him.
    – RegDwigнt
    Nov 25, 2014 at 20:35

2 Answers 2

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First, we come to the question of whether this is a question about English language usage or a request for personal advice. I'll say the following in the spirit of the latter.

Yes, you CAN say that. Whether you should say it that way is another question.

Two points:

  • Mathematically, 1,500 to the nearest thousand rounds to 2,000. So, in a certain sense use of the plural is perhaps permissible, even if possibly misleading.
  • On the other hand, every dollar over 1,000 is a dollar of the second thousand. As is pointed out in comments, when we speak of unitary quantities with fractional components we always use the plural. E.g. 1 gallon, but 1.5 gallons. 1 mile, but 1.2 miles. And going the other way, what would we do about something less than a unitary quantity? 1 mile, and .7 mile - both singular.

The other question, of course, is whether you'd be embarrassed to have your friends expect you make at least $2,000 only to find that you're actually making $500 short of that figure.

In your place, I would feel more comfy in telling my friends that I make well over a thousand dollars.

Your mileage may differ, of course.

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  • Does the "On the other hand, every dollar over 1,000 is a dollar of the second thousand" analysis help explain why it's "1.25 acreS of land"? (+1, btw)
    – Papa Poule
    Nov 25, 2014 at 19:13
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    Actually, yes. This happens in the reporting of the size of many units in English. Same thing with 1 1/2 gallonS. Nov 25, 2014 at 19:16
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    For 0.7, I think most people would say "0.7 miles", not "0.7 mile". Nov 25, 2014 at 19:38
  • +1 for "well over $1,000". If I was going to do the bragging, I'd go with that option! :-) Nov 25, 2014 at 20:21
  • @pacoverflow, yes, perhaps. I wouldn't, but I am sure I've heard other people say it that way. Nov 25, 2014 at 22:17
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One thousand five hundred isn't a plurality of the thousands so no, it doesn't make sense to say thousands. But it's not like they're ever going to see your paycheck, right?

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  • Yes right, they're not gonna see my pay check.
    – bodacydo
    Nov 25, 2014 at 18:52
  • I edited the question to make it more general.
    – bodacydo
    Nov 25, 2014 at 22:42

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