2

I have just come across the following sentence:

Our team has cataloged 30+ [design patterns] across various areas of the framework so far.

I have often seen the pattern "number + plus sign" to refer to an unknown quantity above the given number. When I read that sentence I usually "translate" the expression as "more than 30", so I would read:

Our team has cataloged more than 30 design patterns across various areas of the framework so far.

But now I'm curious. Do you usually read the sentence like that, or read it like "30 plus" or "above 30" or in some other way? Is there a common, standard way to read the "number + plus sign" construction when you find it in sentences? Or is that construction discouraged? (Example: it may be unfriendly for sight-impaired people trying to use text-to-speech software.)

2
  • 4
    I would read it out as "30 plus"; this does not add any interpretation to it. I understand it as "at least 30, but possibly more". Jun 25 '18 at 15:23
  • 1
    thirty plus means: more than thirty
    – Lambie
    Jun 25 '18 at 15:59
5

"30+" is the non-alphabetic equivalent of the written phrase "thirty-plus", which is said just as it looks. Some examples of the written phrase:

The class sizes were thirty-plus (as opposed to fifteen to twenty at Abbey Hall) . . . .
Ben Elton, Meltdown, 2009

It was thirty-plus years ago but it was still fresh in his mind since the media continually reminded the public that the last cup victory was thirty-plus years ago.
Rick Ferguson, The Ghosts in Maple Leaf Gardens, 1998, 2013

My Quest to be a Single Dad: Thirty-Plus Years Trying to Adopt
—title of 2009 book by Garry White

There were thirty-plus people dining with us for Christmas dinner.
Sara McDaniel H. Kemp, From Dawn to Dusk, 2013

The exact meaning is intentionally a bit fuzzy, but seems to be an ellipsis for "thirty plus [some amount]" where the amount is often greater than zero and less than ten (so "30+" equates to "somewhere between 31 and 39, inclusive") but can also be zero at the low end and/or any number at the high end (i.e. "30+" is "at least thirty"). Examples of this latter usage are easiest to see when looking at known minimums, such as the US drinking age:

[F]ans typically have to be twenty-one plus in the United States to get into the venues where bands play . . . .
David Buckingham, Youth, Identity, and Digital Media, 2008 (snippet view)

It was a twenty-one-plus show, which worried us, but we drew one hundred and sixty people . . . .
Jon Ginoli, My Life in Pansy Division, 2009

In both these examples, "twenty-one-plus" clearly includes individuals who are currently twenty-one-years-old, as well as thirty-, forty-, or hundred-year-olds. Many other similar examples of "X-plus" being used for "X and up" can be easily found, as in movie rating ages. And just for fun, here's a similar usage on StackOverflow:

As currently written, this will insert a hyphen between the first two groups of four in any eight-digit-plus number.
jonrsharpe's answer to https://stackoverflow.com/q/28396120

3

Signs for Sums A story of the 4 basic math sign. world wide words

“There be other 2 signes in often use of which the first is made thus + and betokeneth more: the other is thus made - and betokeneth lesse”.

Above from 1557 English. Amazing!

My sense is to read " thirty plus" if written 30+, to read "thirty or so" or "thirty plus or minus" if written 30+/-. There are a number of other variations. There are no standards. And i do not sense that is is discouraged but in the most formal use of English.

1
  • 1
    +1 "30 plus" matches my experience as a native speaker of North American English.
    – Lumberjack
    Jun 25 '18 at 17:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.