Am I correct that this "10 dollars' worth of" works differently depending on what type of noun follows it:

I bought 10 dollars' worth of vases. - CORRECT (plural)

I bought 10 dollars' worth of a vase. - WRONG (singular)

I bought 10 dollars' worth of cheese. - CORRECT (uncountable)

THIS INFO was added later. (Because I heard that this is also possible in a jocular way)

I bought 10 dollars' worth of vase. - WRONG/CORRECT??? (uncountable)

  • 1
    If the noun is countable, you have to use the plural, if not, you don't. It could not be simpler.
    – Lambie
    May 22, 2021 at 14:38
  • I bought 10 dollars' worth of a vase. - is it nonsense, or does it mean something?
    – user1425
    May 22, 2021 at 14:43
  • 2
    If you and two friends each paid ten dollars for a vase costing thirty dollars, and thus own oe third each, then you could perhaps say that you have bought ten dollars worth of a vase. May 22, 2021 at 15:20
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    Give me a dollar's worth means Give me the worth of a dollar, which is why there's a Saxon Genitive "possessive" in the first version. Hence if you want twice as much AND you also want to explicitly state the actual "substance of value" that you're asking for, it's Give me two dollars' worth of cheese. We neither write nor enunciate the actual possessive letter s after a plural noun like two dollars here, but the apostrophe is required in the written form (except lots of people don't realise that, so you'll often see it written without an apostrophe). May 22, 2021 at 15:24
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    ...as @MichaelHarvey points out, syntactically, there's nothing wrong with I bought 10 dollars' worth of a vase. Idiomatically, we wouldn't normally use that form if there was only one vase and only one buyer (who bought the entire vase), but even that couldn't be ruled out. May 22, 2021 at 15:27

1 Answer 1


You have it right. I'll explain why.

"10 dollars' worth" is a statement of amount. It doesn't just mean "worth 10 dollars", it means "an amount worth 10 dollars". "Two kilos of rice", "a bagful of rice", and "3 dollars' worth of rice", are all the same construction.

Since "10 dollars' worth" is an amount, you can't apply it to a single object. "A vase" already tells you the amount - the amount is one vase. Trying to add another unit of quantity doesn't make sense. If anything,

I bought 10 dollars' worth of a vase

would imply that the whole vase was worth more than 10 dollars and you cut off 10 dollars' worth of it and bought only that! In that case, if you want to state the value of the vase, you should use "I bought a vase worth 10 dollars".

You're right that you do occasionally see it applied to countable nouns without using an article:

Look at that! $15,000 worth of sports car. All mine.

That's treating the countable noun as if it were an uncountable noun. It's used for emphasis for items that are worth a lot of money. This makes logical sense (though I don't know what a grammar book would say about it); the (one, whole) car is an amount of car worth $15,000. It still carries a certain mental image of slicing up cars, though, so it's only ever used in a jocular way!

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