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In English, by convention, nouns have singular and plural cases, but they don't really apply in a sensible way, for example zero is treated as plural, and measured quantities, even if they consist of one unit, are also treated as plural. A simpler interpretation is to treat the plural case as the default, with a special case for singular countable.

  • 0 books -- non-singular countable
  • 1 book -- singular countable
  • 2 books -- non-singular countable

but:

  • 0.0 litres -- measured (therefore non-countable) quantity
  • 1.0 litres -- as above
  • 2.0 litres -- as above

Does French have the same convention?

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1 Answer 1

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En français, 0 est toujours singulier. En usage formel, tous les nombres strictement inférieurs à 2 (en valeur absolue) sont singuliers (voir : Académie française — Nombres inférieurs à 2 : accord). On trouve cependant quelquefois le pluriel pour les nombres compris entre 1 et 2.

zéro litre
zéro virgule trois litre
un litre
un virgule trois litre (moins formel : un virgule trois litres)
deux litres

On dit souvent l'unité avant la virgule, auquel cas c'est toujours la seule partie entière qui compte. De plus, on peut omettre le mot « virgule » dans ce cas.

zéro litre virgule trois ou zéro litre trois
un litre virgule trois ou un litre trois (jamais un litres (virgule) trois)


The rules are different in French and in English. Zero is always singular. In formal usage, the integer part is all that matters: any number that is less than 2 is singular (see: Académie française — Nombres inférieurs à 2 : accord); however you'll sometimes find the plural for numbers between 1 and 2.

zéro litre
zéro virgule trois litre
un litre
un virgule trois litre (moins formel : un virgule trois litres)
deux litres

Often the unit is placed before the comma, in which case it's always the integer part that matters. In this case, “virgule” (decimal point) can be omitted.

zéro litre virgule trois ou zéro litre trois
un litre virgule trois ou un litre trois (jamais un litres (virgule) trois)

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Thank you for very detailed answer and link to reference, much appreciated. –  Yimin Rong May 14 at 14:13

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