The word dozen is a collective noun, i.e., singular when we think of them as groups and plural when we think of the individuals acting within the whole. So we might say:

Talking about eggs: "A dozen is probably not enough."
Talking about a party with friends: "A dozen are coming over this afternoon."

So, a dozen roses would likely be considered singular (like a bouquet). We might say, "A dozen roses costs ten rupees," as per subject-verb agreement.

1) However, since we have six dozen, does the modification of the noun by a number change the subject to plural, resulting in cost? Or is it all moot because of the plural roses?

In American English, collective nouns tend to be singular while in British English they may be both. That said, I've seen the suggestion that cost be used, which would be straightforward to me if dozens (plural) were used. From an American perspective, I feel the subject should remain singular when modified by a number: "Three dozen is enough to feed an army," or "Two dozen pizzas is/are too much" (the be verb is interchangeable in the 2nd example).

2) Is sticking with singular in the case above purely my American usage side showing, or is it a shared phenomenon?

Wikipedia states:

When modified by a number, the plural is not inflected, that is, has no -s added.

3) (Main Question) Does this have any bearing on whether the subject is treated as a plural? That is, since a plural is not inflected, could the subject remain singular, or is this irrelevant?

Note this is not a duplicate, since that question is vague and about to be closed and my suggested edit, which is the basis of this question, was rejected.

  • I find it unclear what you are asking. -1. Please edit the post; number the questions and replace words like it and this in them with specific references. Commented Aug 27, 2012 at 19:25
  • @jwpat7 Thanks, updated my question and hopefully it's more clear without being long-winded. :)
    – Zairja
    Commented Aug 27, 2012 at 19:40
  • Ok, removed my downvote Commented Aug 27, 2012 at 19:47
  • 1
    There's no absolute rule. From Google Books - "2 and 2 is 4":2450 hits, "2 and 2 are 4":4,850 hits. Allowing a reasonable "margin of error", it's six of one and half-a-dozen of the other. Commented Aug 28, 2012 at 2:30

2 Answers 2


Looking at the effective interaction with the dozens, I suggest that the singular is appropriate. You are paying one price for the lot. As such six dozens is being treated as a single collective unit.

Six dozen roses costs 60 rupees. [You are buying one thing]

If you were quoting a price for each dozen, you probably would say

Six dozen roses cost 10 rupees per dozen. [You are buying six things]


Talking about eggs: "Three dozen is probably not enough."

"Three dozen eggs is probably not enough," and "Three dozen of the eggs is probably not enough." also work.

Talking about a party with friends: "Three dozen are coming over this afternoon."

"Three dozen attendees are coming over this afternoon," and "Three dozen of the attendees are coming over this afternoon" also work.

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