Consider describing an object and referring to some of its properties, that has a unit (eg. weight in kilograms). Is it correct to describe the property not by saying what unit is it in, but using just the name of this property?

As in

This car has five hundred torques

instead of

This car has five hundred pound-feet of torque

I hear it quite a lot, watching TopGear and on the internet. Is it common and/or correct to omit the unit? Or is it only used when talking about car-related properties?

  • 6
    Don't try to learn grammar from Top Gear. "Five hundred torques" doesn't actually make any sense without the units - it's a jokey way of talking, as if by someone who doesn't know what torque is, but thinks the figures sound impressive.
    – Simon B
    Dec 24, 2014 at 8:50
  • @SimonB That's just what I thought - that it's only colloquial, a kind of an insider joke. I just wondered if it's only TopGear specific or is it used anywhere else. By the way, personally I really don't like it when someone omits the units - especially if it's in the documentation of an application you should write.
    – ryszka.dev
    Dec 24, 2014 at 9:16
  • If you misinterpret the units, it's the difference between a Jaguar XKR and a Jaguar XJR. OK, perhaps with cars' performance it's only a small issue...
    – Andrew Leach
    Dec 24, 2014 at 9:29

2 Answers 2


Given the rather cumbersome names of the units proper for torque, it is to be expected that in contexts where torque must be specified often, some short-cuts will creep into at least oral usage. Unfortunately ngram cannot readily measure this usage, as torque may also be used as a count noun, with a plural, in comparisons of different degrees of torque or even in reference to iron-age jewelry. Informal specifications of a person’s height (since another answerer brought this up by way of analogy) work somewhat differently: we will hear a person’s height specified as “six-two” or “five feet,” with the word “height” elided in both cases, and all units elided too in the first. Torque is a less intuitively obvious and commonplace concept than height, so that approach would not work so well for it.


This is a question in mathematics and logic, not of language. This question can be asked in any language, be it Cantonese, Russian, Indonesian, Hindi, etc.

Torque is used here as a state. It is not even a unit. pound-feet is the unit.

You are like asking

  • Can I say He is five heights instead of He is five feet in height ?

Please think in your own native/proficient language and see if your question is at all logical in the first place.

  • This is a four bedroom house.
  • He has been mad for five days.


  • This is a four houses.
  • He is five mads.


  • But language usage does shift. This is three sizes too small. Dec 24, 2014 at 11:15
  • The scholarship and academia of Physics and Mathematics will never allow such ideas to slip and fall. It has been so for the last 1000 years and will not for the next 1000 years. What more, in the reality of today? Dec 24, 2014 at 11:59
  • 3
    But, but, but ... wait a minute, size is a graduated unit, like step, level, standard. e.g., That student of form five has a sibling in standard five. Torque, weight, height are not graduated units. Dec 24, 2014 at 12:04
  • 1
    I'm assuming Shakespeare wouldn't have been aware of the graduated unit usage. 'This doublet is several sizes too big.' As I say, language usage does shift. Dec 24, 2014 at 12:13
  • 1
    Sometimes I would not mind being a hippocrete, if it helps to get my message across. Also, I am among the least down-voting, trigger-happy-closing user here. Dec 29, 2014 at 1:05

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