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Can the preposition 'about' be used before numbers like one or two?

Example 1:

It employs about one contractual workers in the business.

Can the preposition 'about' be used before a range of numbers like one to two?

Example 2:

It employs about one to two contractual workers in the business.

  • It would not be idiomatic. More "normal" to say "employs one or two" or "employs a few". – Hot Licks Aug 14 '18 at 11:38
  • 1. "About" is not a preposition here; it's an adverb. 2. I don't know what @HotLicks is talking about; I must use this construction about 3 or 4 times a week – Spencer Aug 14 '18 at 12:02
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Can the preposition 'about' be used before numbers like one or two? Example:

It employs about one contractual workers in the business.

Yes. Although this is a bit casual for such a business discussion. Colloquially, very common.


Can the preposition 'about' be used before a range of numbers like one to two? Example:

It employs about one to two contractual workers in the business.

I would say avoid about here and use around, or the like (between-and, from-to). However, in very colloquial informal speech, you could also use about.

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    "about one workers" is highly ungrammatical. – tchrist Aug 14 '18 at 14:52
  • sorry for the grammatical mistake here. I meant "about one worker" and I wanted to learn whether "about" could be used before "one" in this context. – afrin sultana Aug 16 '18 at 5:08
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It is odd to say "About one worker". It would be normal to say "About 100 workers", to mean between 90 and 110 (or more, or less, in context)

If you mean a small but non-specific number use "a few":

The company employs a few contract workers.

It would be fine to say "about 1 metre" which I would understand to be in the range 0.9—1.1 m (or perhaps a smaller or larger range, in context). But I would not call 2m to be "about 1m". Similarly, I would not call "2 workers" to be "about 1 worker". This makes "about 1 worker" a rather odd expression.

Similarly "about fifty to a hundred workers" is fine, but "about one or two" is odd. Just use "a few" in this situation.

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