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Should we use plural or singular for a fraction of a mile?

I'm working on a website that displays distance to various locations to the nearest 1/10 mile. One of the developers (a non-native speaker) asked me an interesting question: If the distance is 1.0 mile(s), is that singular or plural? Clearly, anything other that 1.0 is plural, but is it:

1.0 miles away


1.0 mile away

The first option sounds more correct to my ear, but the voice of my elementary school language arts tells me that the latter option is correct.

Edit: Added the word 'away' to the example. It doesn't change the question, but might provide clarity for the answer. Also, regarding numbers between 0 and 1, after more thought, I'm not sure that the answer is as clear as I originally thought. See http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/57224.html.

marked as duplicate by Hugo, Kit Z. Fox, Alenanno, RegDwigнt Oct 7 '11 at 16:44

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  • 2
    I think it would depend on whether you read/pronounce "1.0" as "one"or as "one point zero". – yoozer8 Oct 7 '11 at 15:40
  • 4
    1.0 miles sounds better, see also this answer: english.stackexchange.com/questions/2139/… – Hugo Oct 7 '11 at 15:43
  • 1
    I second Hugo here. If you read the "point o" or "point zero" then you need to say "mileS". – Noldorin Oct 7 '11 at 16:02
  • The problem with Hugo's argument is that I'm not speaking it, I'm writing it. I agree that, when speaking, it would be "one point zero miles" or "one mile". So when I write it, should I assume that it will be spoken as it is written? – Ken Oct 7 '11 at 16:08
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    Hmm. Interesting that this was closed as an exact duplicate. It's a similar question, but not exactly the same...and the answer provided by Fraser adds a clarification that isn't given in the other similar topic. – Ken Oct 7 '11 at 17:28

"Singular" is intrinsically an integer measure. 1.0 doesn't qualify as an integer, so the plural is appropriate.

Dictionary.com says this:

Grammar . noting or pertaining to a member of the category of
number found in many languages that indicates that a word form
has one referent or denotes one person, place, thing, or instance,...

1.0 does not refer to a single thing, it is a dimensional measure of size. It doesn't qualify as singular.

  • 4
    It's worth noting that 1.0 often doesn't mean exactly one. It could mean anything from roughly 0.95 to 1.05. – supercat May 1 '14 at 6:09
  • @ supercat 1.0 should be taken as exactly one unless there are indications to the contrary. – Edwin Ashworth May 23 '15 at 20:55

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