Unable To Answer a 4th Grade Student [Complete-Off topic]


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Hi Guys,

So my parents & siblings believe[citation needed] that I'm good at Maths. They were struggling to answer a maths question by my 4th Grade nephew and intentionally made him ask me his question.

Well, he sort of had two questions.

First Question: "1" is singular. So what about all the numbers that are less than one (He meant fraction) like 0.5 for example. Are they singular as well?

My Answer: I have never thought this question. I've done all my degree and working and till date, I didn't want to think this way. Thankfully, Google threw me an answer and I told him that as if I said it myself: Fractions are Plural

Second Question: If "0.5" is already plural, "1" is nothing but two "0.5". How is that singular?

My Answer: ::) :-\ :-[ :-X (Not even sure what keyword I should use in Google)

Just felt it was funny and wanted to share. But if anyone could really give a meaningful answer , I would be be so happy.  :D
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  • Posts: 4645
To be clear, this is more of an English-language question than strictly a math question. It comes down to a matter of how you are describing the value in question. I could say, for example, "How many ones do you have?" if talking about a plural quantity of a singular value. On the other hand, someone could say "I have a two." to describe a singular quantity of a plural value.
We describe fractions as plural because they're naturally being divided into multiple units; "three-fifths" or "six-sevenths" are each saying "I have X quantity of Y possible total." As a result, we treat them as plural.

Regarding his second question; again, it's how we describe it. By saying "I have two halves." we are describing a value that is equal to a single whole, but we are discussing it in fractional terms - thus it is plural. Imagine cutting a pizza into eight pieces. You take two of those pieces. You now have "one quarter" or "one fourth" of the whole pizza; but if someone were to ask you how much pizza you ate you would say "two slices".

Again, math is not the same as language. Language is notoriously imprecise and full of variation!
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But Haste is my Life.
Proud member of the League of Idiotic Stencylers; doing things in Stencyl that probably shouldn't be done.


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  • Posts: 2275
Also to be clear, Google and Wikipedia are not "sources" of information. They are just guides to lead you to information.

I actually find the link that you post misleading. When you use zero as a modifier for objects, you are saying: "There is an absence of objects". It would be incorrect grammar to say, "There is an absence of object". So tell your nephew that zero is just a shortened way to say "There are no..." or "There is an absence of...". Also tell him that using numbers as modifiers in text is not considered proper. You should only use a number (in writing) when you are representing data. For instance, "My checking account has a balance of 0 dollars." Even then, it would be better to say, "My checking account is empty.", rather than write a number.

About fractions, I do not view them as singular or plural. They match to whatever the proper context is. When you are talking about a population, you would not say "1/2 people" or "1/2 person" because the connotation brings to mind an alternate meaning. Instead, you would write, "1/2 of the people". Let us now say that you are cutting and eating a singular apple. You would say that "you have eaten 1/4 of the apple". If you instead made it plural, "you have eaten 1/4 of the apples", the statement takes on a completely different meaning. Unlike the population example, you can use 1/2 apple properly. If you add 1/2 apple to another 1/2 apple, you have 1 whole apple. All are singular because you talking about singular objects. You would convert it to plural if you were then talking about both apple halves.

Do not quote me on what I wrote above. As Hectate said, this is an English language question, not a math question. I am not the one to ask about English or Math questions :)  All I did was provide some usage examples. Look a little deeper into your google searches and find original source material describing how to use numbers in languages. Maybe even involve your nephew. Both of you could do a hunt for real sources. It would be great if you can teach him at an early age that Google and Wikipedia are not citation resources.


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Worthy points, Hectate & Ceosol.

Something that started as embarrassing and funny turned out to be useful.
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This question is also a philosophical discussion. A very old quote:
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“No man ever steps in the same river twice, because it's not the same river and he's not the same man.” (Heraclitus)
This expresses the sense that everything is constantly changing. In the sense that everything is singular. Singular in the sense of unique or not to repeat.

Nietzsche discusses the topic talking about "the eternal return" of the Greeks.

Hinduism emphasizes that the entire universe is one unique thing, and that the "separateness" is an illusion created by the "ego".

Buddhism drink this source, and also points out that the concept of impermanence: or that permanence is an illusion.

And a more modern philosopher, Deleuze talk about singularity, however it is a complex and advanced philosophy.

The singular of mathematical refers to the number be divisible (decomposed) or no.
For example, the 2 is singular because it is only divisible by 1 and by himself.
4 is composed because it is divisible by 1, 2 and by himself.

We can think that 3 is made of 1+2, or 1+1+1.
However, this number can not be decomposed because it is number prime.
How can not be decomposed, this numbers often used in encryption passwords.
 And Prime in the sense of the first, primitive, primordial. This at the time that atoms they were considered not divisibles and this numbers considered the true atoms of universe.

Now this rule is valid only for numbers integers.

« Last Edit: October 11, 2016, 04:31:19 pm by gurigraphics »


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Wow! Interesting!!! Nicely put gurigraphics. Now this has moved from Maths to Language to Philosophy. Happy that I posted this topic.
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