I want to know if it is correct to say:

The number of participants is in the lower teens.

and whether native speakers would understand the phrase in the lower teens to mean more than 10, but less than than 15?

Having read some of the comments, I want to specify that the question concerns the number of people. I am aware what in his teens means. Someone in the comment mentioned in the lower teens was used when referring to temperature. I think it is a good start and we can continue exploring (if possible) more ways of using this phrase. Thanks for all the answers and comments.

  • Yes, though at that scale it's weird to be vague. If it's between 10-15, surely you know exactly how many? Also I'd argue people might assume 13-15 (or 16), not 10, because we don't start saying "teen" til 13. Anyway, I think it'd be fine to use for something uncertain or fuzzy, like what the temperature is going to be next week, or when puberty starts (though there we'd more likely say early teens), but for a number of participants at an event which already happened? Just say the exact figure.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 12 '17 at 19:35
  • 2
    When I hear "in the lower teens", I think of temperature. Surely if the number of participants is that low it is possible to give a count better than a guesstimate?
    – Cascabel
    Mar 12 '17 at 19:36
  • @harmless-psycho your edit makes the question unambiguously about age. Are you sure that's the OP's intent? I know Josh's answer is age based but originally it looked perhaps to be regarding number of participants?
    – k1eran
    Mar 12 '17 at 20:22
  • 1
    @k1eran I agree that edit put words in OP's mouth and changed the meaning of the question. I've rolled it back, but restored the clarity-enhancing edits.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 12 '17 at 20:38
  • 1
    @k1eran: You're right, I'm sorry for misinterpreting it. Thank you for your comment!
    – user40861
    Mar 13 '17 at 13:45

When we're talking about this number of objects or people, the phrase a dozen or so is much more frequently used than "lower teens". Refer to this Google ngrams graph:

Google ngrams, a dozen or so versus lower teens


There are a dozen or so participants

is preferable to the phrasing you ask about.


Early/mid/late are the more common adjectives used with teens:

  • A person's teens are the period in which they are aged between 13 and 19:
  • Both my daughters are in their teens. He's in his early/mid/late teens.

(Cambridge Dictionary)

Lower/upper teens are also used to refer to age. You can find usage instances in Ngram in the lower teens vs in the upper teens

From Aging and the family:

  • From a low of 10 per cent in the lower teens, the female activity rates for the world as a whole ascend to a high of 60 per cent for women in their late thirties, subsiding to about 7 per cent for those reaching 65 years or over. The activity rates for ...

From The Evolution of the Meaning of Sexual Intercourse in the Human:

  • The pattern of risks with age is a U-shaped one: a woman in the lower teens has more chance of dying in childbirth, and more chance of losing her infant, than a woman of 18 to 20. During the twenties the risks of childbirth are at their lowest ...
  • 2
    The question asks about a count in the lower teens as opposed to someone's age.
    – Spencer
    Mar 12 '17 at 20:58
  • 1
    @Spencer Yes but teens are teens, and none strike till after the clock's struck a dozen. The same applies here. You can't use teens for words lacking teen in them in our language.
    – tchrist
    Mar 13 '17 at 4:26
  • @tchrist That may be one reason OP was asking for a new term, given that the required range was "more than 10 but less than 15".
    – Spencer
    Mar 13 '17 at 10:42

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .