16

What is the right form for these expressions:

"In 2000 Coca-Cola has sold 17 billions of bottles"

or

"In 2000 Coca-Cola has sold 17 billion of bottles"

Could you please, explain why?


UPDATE based on answers

The present perfect should not be used here — we know the exact year, so past simple should be used instead.

The example was inspired by the IELTS Academic Writing Task 1. Here is the relevant pie chart.

enter image description here

32

I'm afraid - neither!

Use billions when you don't have a perfect figure and you want to say that roughly.

In (the year) 2000, the Coca-Cola company sold billions of bottles

But you said that you have a figure. Then it's more natural if you write -

In (the year) 2000, the Coca-Cola company sold 17 billion bottles

In general cases, we prefer to use the preposition when the number is not specified.

There were hundreds of people gathered outside the White House.

But with a figure...

There were three hundred of people gathered outside the White House

  • 18
    +1, just a small detail: in the year of 2000 -> you removed one of, I think it is better removed here as well: in the year 2000. – oerkelens Jan 6 '15 at 9:05
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    @oerkelens hey, I think it's common to write that way! – Maulik V Jan 6 '15 at 9:11
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    370 results, versus 5000 in the news category for the version without of. In the web category_ roughly 5M versus 27M results. I'm not saying it isn't used, but it looks strange to me, and according to your own source, to a lot of people. – oerkelens Jan 6 '15 at 9:24
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    @MaulikV As a native English speaker, "in the year of 2000" sounds really strange. It's more natural to remove "of" in this phrase. – FreeAsInBeer Jan 6 '15 at 18:32
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    @MaulikV: I would never say "in the year of 2011". Did you notice that most of your Google hits were from South or South-East Asia? I think this is a regional peculiarity. – TonyK Aug 28 '16 at 10:59
9

First, Coca Cola sold 17 billion bottles, not 17 billion of bottles. You wouldn't say "one hundred of bottles."

The form "X billions of things" is an old British usage. I don't know whether it's still in use there, but you'll sometimes see it in books from the 18th and 19th centuries. It is entirely archaic, at least in the US.

So you never have to say "X billions of things" or "X millions of things." It is enough for you to understand the meaning. Saying X billion things is always correct and always understood.

  • 4
    "I don't know whether it's still in use there" -- very occasionally, but you wouldn't hear it for example on the news. It might always be consciously archaic when it is used. – Steve Jessop Jan 6 '15 at 10:10
  • I have certainly heard it being used and not, I think, always as an archaism. It foregrounds the billions. "17 billions of bottles" considers each billion to be a separate item. "hundreds of millions of pounds" is a fairly common usage in British English and works in much the same way: "how many millions?" - "hundreds of them". – Francis Davey Jan 7 '15 at 7:58
  • Interesting. Your last example is like normal AmE usage, except that we would leave off the "s": "He makes how many million?" "Hundreds of million." – oaker Jan 10 '15 at 12:23

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