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On Wed, Oct 13, 2004 at 05:29:37PM -0400, Paul Bennett wrote:
> On Wed, 13 Oct 2004 21:57:27 +0200, Philippe Caquant
> <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> >BTW, should we write 1 1/2 hour, or  1 1/2 hours ?
>
> In English, the latter is correct.
>
> We have "an hour and a half" or "one and a half hours".

In colloquial English, when a number N directly modifies a noun,
the noun seems to be placed in the singular only when N=1 exactly.  Consider
temperatures, for instance (choice of scale is mostly irrelevant here,
although my use of negative numbers would seem to imply that it's not
Kelvin or Rankine):

-1.5 degrees
-1 degrees
-0.5 degrees
0 degrees
0.5 degrees       (but "half a degree")
1 degrees
1.5 degrees

However, in technical English writing, the singular is sometimes used for
all numbers in the inclusive range [-1,1]:

-1.5 degrees
-1 degree
-0.5 degree
0 degree
0.5 degree
1 degree
1.5 degrees

Or at least in the ranges [-1,0) and (0,1]:

-1.5 degrees
-1 degree
-0.5 degree
0 degrees
0.5 degree
1 degree
1.5 degrees

-Marcos