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‘They won hundreds of dollars; five hundreds to be precise!’

"The Name of the Number", by Michael A. B. Deakin , page 48.

In mathematics we talk about the place of the units, of the tens, of the hundreds etc. So 2.000 is two hundred tens, and 2.000.000 is twenty thousand hundreds.


EDIT

Also, what is the meaning of the second hundreds, for example from the ones in the Microsoft® Encarta® Dictionary?

noun (plural hundreds)

  1. the number 100
  2. a group of a hundred people or objects
  3. an unspecified large number: attended by hundreds
  4. the number that is three places to the left of the decimal point in an Arabic numeral
  5. a bill worth a hundred dollars
  6. a historical subdivision of English, Irish, and some North American counties

hundreds, plural noun

  1. the numbers 100 to 999
  2. the years of a particular century: the seventeen-hundreds
  3. numbers over 100, particularly as a range of Fahrenheit temperatures: For three days the temperature was in the hundreds.
  4. unspecified large numbers

Microsoft® Encarta® 2009

  • 6
    Yes, "hundreds" is grammatical. The author is trying to match the previous sentence's "hundreds," but "hundred" could have been written instead. It is just a stylistic choice. – user392938 Aug 8 at 18:09
  • Check in a dictionary as much as possible; your answer is here: oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/english/… – LPH Aug 8 at 18:17
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    @LPH the entry you pointed to has no example of a construction like "five hundreds"; since the book that OP is reading does quote one such example, unfortunately without attribution, it becomes an interesting question. I have never heard "Three hundreds" used by a native English speaker, although in some languages it is the rule. – Conrado Aug 8 at 18:33
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    @Conrado That is why I believe it shouldn't be used; most likely in a dictionary you would have "Two hundred(s) was withdrawn from the account." but all you get is "Two hundred (pounds) was withdrawn from the account.". On top of that Google Books do not give a single instance of that usage (see the link in my answer). – LPH Aug 8 at 18:38
  • Related on ELL:Why is there no plural s, with good answers. – Conrado Aug 8 at 22:16
3

First, I will answer your original question. Below the answer, you will find all of the information I have found about other usages for "hundreds" (there are probably some that I missed).


They won hundreds of dollars; five hundreds to be precise!

As the sources below state, the author—technically—should use "hundred" in this case. However, the author used "hundreds" in the previous sentence, so they had the stylistic choice of whether they wanted to add the "-s."

In this case, the author was likely showing that the money was won in discrete units of $100. On the other hand, the author could have simply been matching the "hundreds" from the clause before the semicolon; since they are in the same sentence, it would make sense to match the plurality of the same noun. It is simply a stylistic choice by the author.


I apologize for the long(ish) answer, but you have included (since your edit) many examples, so I will give you all of the information I have found.


From A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (p. 308):

The nouns dozen, hundred, thousand, and million have zero plurals when they are premodified by another quantitative word:

three dozen glasses

two hundred people

The plural form is normally used with all four nouns when an of- phrase follows, with or without a preceding indefinite quantitative word:

(many) dozens of glasses

(many) hundreds of people

But the zero form is common enough:

a few million of us, several hundred/thousand of them

Note such combinations as:

tens of thousands of people

hundreds of millions of stars


From A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (p. 396):

We always read year date as hundreds:

In 1985 'nineteen eighty-five' [or] 'nineteen hundred and eighty five' <formal>

In the 1600s 'sixteen hundreds'


From The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (p. 351):

i a. dozens of spiders b. hundreds of voters [head noun + complement]

ii a. a dozen spiders b. three hundred voters [determiner + head noun]


From Michael Swan's Practical English Usage (p.322):

After a number, the words dozen, hundred, thousand, million, and billion have no final -s, and of is not used. This also happens after several and a few.

Compare:

five hundred pounds

hundreds of pounds

several thousand times

It cost thousands.

a few million years

millions of years


From Cambridge Dictionary:

There were hundreds of people at the pool today.

There were a hundred shirts waiting to be ironed.

He expects the total amount to be in the low hundreds.

The house was built in the sixteen hundreds.

Breakfast is at seven hundred hours.

| improve this answer | |
  • The most comprehensive source (if someone needs a copy of the OED, please let me know): oed.com/oed2/00109312 – GJC Aug 9 at 16:33
  • Bravo! Thanks! No apology needed, the question needs long answers. – Conrado Aug 9 at 16:37
  • @Conrado Thank you! – user392938 Aug 9 at 16:38
  • It's not that long but interesting! – Decapitated Soul Aug 9 at 17:21
  • @DecapitatedSoul Haha. Thanks! – user392938 Aug 9 at 17:25
2

While it may be O.K., "five hundreds" is not usual.

The place of a digit in the number is called "units", "tens", "hundreds", and so on; but when talking about quantities, the only one to become plural is the unit: 1 unit, two or more units.
The author you quote mentions "grammar books" recommending not to use the S, like this one at Woodwardenglish:

When we have large numbers or a specific number, we do NOT put an S at the end of hundred, thousand, and million.

For example, in this report at unesdoc.unesco.org, the number is written without the S at the end of "thousand" and "hundred", just like the one "million", although they are plural (Deakin mentions this custom rather briefly in the paragraph that you quoted):

[...] before the end of 2003, the sum of one million, two hundred and eighty-two thousand, five hundred and fifty-five United States dollars (US $1,282,555) corresponding to the [...]

Constructions like "two hundred tens", while mathematically decipherable, are definitely uncomfortable, to say the least, and smack of gratuitous polynomial expansion.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    I would expect five hundreds to mean 5 $100 bills, which is something a cashier might be asked for when cash is withdrawn from a bank: Give me five hundreds and ten twenties. – Jason Bassford Aug 8 at 19:15
  • You may wish to remove this reference: The three hundreds of Aylesbury: Introduction is the name of a chapter in A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 2. Unfortunately, this "hundreds" is either not related to the number at all. or only very indirectly. A hundred, in this sense is equivalent to a wapentake or a ward. It was a division of a county that had its own court. – Greybeard Aug 8 at 20:19
  • @Greyb you're right- thank you! I will edit; I saw that it was a district after I had posted. If I cannot find the etymology of that kind of hundred I will make it a question soon. – Conrado Aug 8 at 20:42
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    @Conrado. The important word is "probably". The OED also says "hundred" was an area that provided 100 soldiers. The derivation is uncertain. When last used (1960s?), it referred to the area of jurisdiction of a single court in a district of any size. But in legal terms in the 18th century, we have: "1765 W. Blackstone Comm. Laws Eng. I. Introd. iv. 115 As ten families of freeholders made up a town or tithing, so ten tithings composed a superior division, called a hundred, as consisting of ten times ten families." The point is that it isn't a number. – Greybeard Aug 9 at 8:17
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    @gjc Five hundred. Or Five groups of a hundred. The first second definition from Encarta is not (commonly, at least) used in the plural with s. Anyway, you erased the original question, now my answer doesn't fit! – Conrado Aug 9 at 10:36
-3

From the use in one of the examples at the entry for "hundred" (OALD) you can see that an s is probably not used. From this ngram and this one you have the confirmation that an s is never found after a number; it must be exceptional to find one.

| improve this answer | |
  • Never? Oh, never in that very particular context – Mitch Aug 8 at 22:30
  • What is the meaning of the second hundreds from the ones in the Microsoft® Encarta® Dictionary (see the edit I did in the OP)? – GJC Aug 9 at 9:02
  • @GJC I can't make out for sure what you are asking; please, try to be specific. – LPH Aug 9 at 14:17

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