How do say this in words?
A $2,000 worth of items.
If I put it into words: A two-thousand dollar/dollars worth of items.
Which is the correct way here?
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@Catija's answer is very close and covers the major points, but slightly wrong.
Which is the correct way here?
A two-thousand dollar/dollars worth of items.
You're treating 'worth' as the subject of your sentence and acting like it's countable, but it's not. 'Worth' is treated in English as a single abstract quality, like 'information' or 'knowledge'. You generally don't speak of 'worths' unless (and this is unusual) you're discussing a group of separate uncountable worths.
If you want to keep 'worth' as the subject, it should be
$2000 worth of items
read as "two thousand dollars' worth of items", as they are items with a worth of two thousand dollars. It's pretty common for native speakers to forget the numeral should be possessive and to omit the apostrophe. It always has been common. It's still technically wrong.
These cases aren't tricky if you ask yourself the following question: how would you write "one dollar's worth"?
There's still an s because it's a possessive, not a plural.
If you want to keep the countable aspect, it should be
A $2000 item
Like Catija said, that should be read as "a two-thousand-dollar item" because nouns being used as attributive adjectives almost always get used in their singular form. You've changed the meaning, though: you're talking about a single item with a value of $2000 rather than several items collectively valued at $2000.
This sentence as it stands is incorrect.
You say either of these:
- A $2,000 item. (A two-thousand-dollar item.)
- $2,000 worth of items. (Two-thousand dollars worth of items.)
In the first case, you're talking about a single item that is worth $2,000, so you use "a" and you don't say "worth of". In this case, "dollar" is a descriptive adjective the way "year" in "twelve-year-old boy" is.
In the second case, you're talking about several items that together have a value of $2,000, so you do not use "a" because it's not singular and you use the plural forms of "dollars" and "items". "Dollars" here is a unit, so it's plural to match the quantity being plural.
This follows colloquial English and should be the definitive answer, taking (worth of) as a prepositional phrase.
Two thousand dollars
worth of items
We can say:
$2000is a NOUN and here
Worth ofacts like a preposition, (it's a little colloquial)
Worth of itemsis a prep. phrase (prep. + noun)
Of course if we were to write
Two thousand dollar item
Two thousand is an ADJECTIVE, and therefore, no -s.
a is an ARTICLE used for the
countable noun item
When you have a number with units as an adjective before the noun, you use a hyphen between the number and the unit and the singular version of the unit.
I wouldn't touch this question with a 10-foot pole.
When the unit is the noun, then there's no hyphen and whether the unit is singular or plural depends on the value.
That pole is 10 feet.
With dollars, it can be confusing because we write the dollar sign before the numeral but we say the unit ("dollars") after the number.
A $10 watch. A ten-dollar watch.
The watch costs $10. The watch costs ten dollars.
The hyphen rule can also get complicated when the number contains more than one word, because sometimes the number will have an internal hyphen and sometimes it won't, depending on the value and which style guide you follow.
The burglar took my two hundred-year-old rocking chair.
This can get so complicated, the it's often helpful just to revert to digits when the number has more than one word. Fortunately, many style guides will encourage you to use numerals in this case anyway.
The burglar took my 200-year-old rocking chair.
Another point of confusion, as pointed out by lly, is when the value is actually possessive. Note the apostrophe here:
The burglar took five thousand dollars' worth of stuff.
It's very common, even in professional writing, to forget the apostrophe in phrases like the one above. Note that if you use a currency sign and numerals, you're more likely to get away with it:
The burglar took $5000 worth of stuff.
Technically, the "$5000" should be written as "$5000's." Confusing, right?
Here are some more examples that illustrate all these ideas.
For Nate, college was a 6-year odyssey.
For Nate, college was a twelve-semester odyssey.
It took Nate six years to earn his degree.
He ended up three hundred thousand dollars in debt.
He ended up $300,000 in debt.
He ended up with three hundred thousand dollars of debt.
He ended up with three hundred thousand dollars' worth of debt.
He ended up with a three hundred thousand-dollar debt.