Say, for example, I'd like to express that I have four complete six-slice pizzas and one with five out of six slices. Would I say "I have 29/6 pizzas"? "4 and 5/6 of a pizza" for mixed fractions?

  • Related 0.25 mile or 0.25 miles?... Still about "fractions" but this one treats about improper/mixed fractions so I guess it's not a dupe... – Alenanno Jun 14 '11 at 0:50
  • I'd like to point out that in significant portions of the U.S., the unit of pizza is a "pie". One cannot refer to a pizza. – user362 Jun 14 '11 at 2:17
  • In the northwest U.S., I would say that referring to part of "a pizza" is very common. – Eri Jun 14 '11 at 2:44
  • In California, we definitely refer to the unit as "a pizza", not as "a pie". – MT_Head Jun 14 '11 at 6:17

Generally one uses only a fraction when expressing a ratio: 1/6 of a pizza, 1/3 of a pizza; it seems reasonable to extend this to improper fractions because you are comparing the amount of pizza you have to a "standard" size. However, using an improper fraction is discouraged in general and therefore would be somewhat jarring to use "naked", so I'd be inclined to write it out in some fashion: "I have twenty-nine sixths of a pizza" (longest, but best) or "I have 29 6ths of a pizza" (shortest and rather poor-looking, and can still easily cause a pause for interpretation) over "I have 29/6 of a pizza" (forces the reader to stop and figure out what you mean, which is just bad).

If you eliminate the improper fraction, it's no longer a ratio and therefore is best expressed as a plural: "I have 4 and 5/6 pizzas."

  • ...though contrast half a pizza and 0.5 pizzas. – Henry Jun 14 '11 at 1:09

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