6

I still can't wrap my head around this one and have to consult references every time I want to be safe:

  • Is it "0.4 point" or "0.4 points"?
  • Is it "1.0 point" or "1.0 points"?

I know that I can work around that by using four tenths of a point or one point instead, but sometimes writing 0.4 point/points or 1.0 point/points is called for, especially in technical documents.

I gathered that this mostly goes by the style guide I choose to (or have to) use, and it's quite possible that there is no universally accepted convention for this. Then again, in light of potential benefits for learners here, I think it's worth asking, and I hope that we can lay out some rules of thumb, something that can be used as a general guideline, especially on writing tests and exams.

Addendum: another case that's worth mentioning in answers, for completeness, is "0.0 point" or "0.0 points"? In my humble opinion, it's safe to assume that most learners on our site know what to use when the quantity falls out of the range between -1.0 and 1.0.

0
8

I started analyzing this question by trying to figure out a context where I might use this. I thought of a gymnastics meet, where someone might say:

Alex lost by X points.

If X = 1, the answer is obvious. If X = 1.0, though, the answer isn't so clear, particularly if the it's presumed the speaker would include the "point oh" part of the numerical value in the quote.

I think I'd be inclined to use the plural:

Alex lost by one point zero points.

because I'd certainly use the plural if the eventually winner had scored a tenth of a point more or less:

Alex lost by one point one points. (for 1.1)
Alex lost by zero point nine points. (for 0.9)

That's how this quiz seems to handle the quandary, and, while it's not unanimous, that's the conclusion that seems to have been drawn on this forum, too.

Interestingly enough, when I tried to find instances of “1.0 point” online, many of the hits were preceded by an article, where the singular would make more sense:

This is a 1.0 point [pen], and what I wanted was the 1.6 point.

Typically, these loans come with a 3.0 or 3.5 point fee attached, but right now you can receive a 48-60 month Buy & Hold loan with just a 1.0 point fee.

1
  • The common thread between those occurrences in the singular is that "point" is being used as part of an adjective-phrase (What sort of fee? A one-point fee. What sort of pen? A 1pt one). In the case of the pen, it's a unit of size, so it's like saying "a 1.0mm pen", save the difference in thickness.
    – Darael
    Jul 6 '18 at 13:51
1

The simple rule is that 1 is singular and anything else is plural so 1.0 point all else is plural as it is a multiple or fraction of 1. However, in the written form 0.5 points would be half point

3
  • Thank you for the answer. The latter part about 1.0 point/points isn't quite clear, though. Could you make it a little clearer? Thank you. May 15 '16 at 15:54
  • Decimals are fractions of 1 therefore 1 x a value. the written forms use the rule of context so half is read as one half point while 0.5 is read as 0.5 points
    – Shon
    May 15 '16 at 15:58
  • Another way to think of the written form is that it is an abbreviation. One half of one point is half point
    – Shon
    May 15 '16 at 16:02

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