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Can I say

“ How many meter timbers do you need to build a cabin ?”

İnstead of

“how tall should timbers you need to build a cabin be ? “

I don’t have any context for this but I wonder If “ how many meter timbers” is correct or not . Most of native speakers say it is wrong but I couldn’t understand why we can’t say “how many meter timbers “while we can say “five meter timbers”? Is it totally ungrammatical or grammatically correct even it is weird?

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You can't use the first one. It means

How many pieces of timber (each one metre long) do you need to build a cabin?

However it is an un-idiomatic way of asking that question. The correct way is

How long do you need the timber to be?

Now, unless you are a very strange person, you don't just walk up to someone and ask this question. So let's imagine a little context, and you'll see that something like "how many metre" is possible:

Right, we're going to need some timber for the frame of the cabin.

How big?

Two-by-four should do, I'd think.

Is this the right stuff?

Looks good... How many metres is that?

This is the five-metre timber, but we can cut to size.

And so on and so on.

However, nobody says "How many meter timbers". It is not idiomatic, even if it appears logical to you.

| improve this answer | |
  • Eve if it is not idiomatic , is it grammatical or totally wrong ? – Foreign student Jan 5 at 11:09
  • Please read the answer. It might be grammatical, but it means something different. It means "how many 1-meter-long pieces of timber". – James K Jan 5 at 11:13
  • Thank you so much Mr James . Thanks to you I solved my problem. – Foreign student Jan 5 at 11:14

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