"Those" seventy dollars or "that" seventy dollars? E.g.

Jack needed those/that seventy dollars.

To me "those" sounds more likely because seventy is clearly plural, but I also know that sometimes things are seen as a whole in English. So in this case "that" might actually be the better option if we consider seventy dollars as one single amount of something.

3 Answers 3


Here is an example where you can imply subtle differences in meaning by the choice between plural or singulars

That seventy dollars you owe me is way overdue

means that I am thinking about that debt as a total, a single monetary sum.

Those seventy dollars in the box are damaged

means that I am thinking about the constituent physical items of currency.

So both singular and plural are grammatical. Which you choose depends on what meaning you are trying to convey.

The family is united and is coping with the tragedy quite well

The family, each in his or her own way, are coping with the tragedy quite well.

In the first case, the focus is on the family as a unit. In the second case, the focus is on the family as related but distinct individuals.

  • 2
    Shouldn't that read, The family, each in his or her own way, is coping with the tragedy quite well.
    – EllieK
    May 20, 2022 at 16:34
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    @EllieK No, that is my whole point. In the second sentence there is no sense of the family acting as a single entity. The most noticeable such difference is between the British "The government are doing" and the American "The government is doing." That difference arises from a different legal. concept of the executive in the two systems of government May 20, 2022 at 16:54
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    To me though, you can't say "Those seventy dollars" to refer to a $50 and a $20. That sounds like 70 $1 bills to me. May 21, 2022 at 0:14
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    @JeffMorrow: In American English, the family is singular, end of story. You don't get to pluralize groups of people (or groups of anything) in American English unless the noun is syntactically plural.
    – Kevin
    May 21, 2022 at 1:22
  • @EllieK you are correct. If you removed phrase "each ... way" then family-are would be incorrect in American English. British English might be different.
    – Xavier J
    May 21, 2022 at 1:30

In this case, the seventy dollars is a single block of money, so we generally refer to it in the singular. "The seventy dollars you owe me is ..."

Arguably this violates normal rules of grammar. Obviously "dollars" is plural and "seventy" makes it clear that it is more than one. In most cases we use a plural even if we are referring to the "things" as a group. "The three dogs who attacked me are .." not "The three dogs who attacked me is ..." "The three packages in the shipment are ..." not "is", event though it's one shipment. Etc.

Note this is an issue of grammar and not of fact. Like if I reworded the sentence to say, "The pack of three dogs that attacked me is ...", "is" would be appropriate, because now the subject is the singular word "pack", even though the pack has three members. Similarly "The shipment of three boxes is ..."

Off the top of my head I can't think of another example where a plural word is treated as a singular other than when talking about an amount of money. But I wouldn't say there are no other cases, maybe I'm just not thinking of them.

  • Resources. We don't say oxygens, silvers, golds, airs (noun). And then, the opposite: time durations is 'time', but specific moments are 'times'
    – Xavier J
    May 21, 2022 at 1:36
  • The example in the first paragraph does not particularly support the claim, as the article "the" is equally correct whether "seventy dollars" is considered as a single collective object or as multiple individual objects. May 21, 2022 at 13:08
  • @XavierJ The examples you give are uncountable nouns. I suppose there's a similarity in the idea, but grammatically, not really the same thing. "Seventy dollars is a lot of money." We're using the plural form of the noun but a singular verb. "Oxygen is essential for human life." It's a singular form of the noun with a singular verb. Doesn't create the same paradox.
    – Jay
    May 23, 2022 at 17:54
  • @JohnBollinger Hmm, I don't see your point. We still say "The three dogs are ..." whether we talk about them as three individual dogs ("The three dogs have long fur") or as a group ("The three dogs attacked me as a pack"). But "The seventy dollars he owes is past due", speaking of the money as a unit, we use a singular. But "The seventy dollars in the box are all counterfeits", speaking of them as individual bills, we use a plural.
    – Jay
    May 23, 2022 at 17:56

You use the plural "these" or "those" if you're referring to 70 specific, individual dollar bills. For example:

I want these 70 dollars rather than those 70 dollars because they're not crumpled and torn up.

You use the singular "the" or "that" when you're referring to an amount of money, rather than physical currency, which treats "dollars" as a mass noun.

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