Numbers Exercise (654)

Revise each sentence below to reflect correct usage and style.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: We have X and Y chromosomes because about 170 to 310 million years ago, what used to be a second X chromosome lost most of its genes.
Correct : We have X and Y chromosomes because about 170 million to 310 million years ago, what used to be a second X chromosome lost most of its genes.

When a reference to orders of magnitude (millions, billions, and so on) appears in a number range, the word should follow each number in the range, so that readers do not mistakenly assume the first number to refer to, in this case, 170 years.

2.
Original: Jake Peavy allowed six runs on nine hits in 42/3 innings.
Correct : Jake Peavy allowed six runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings.

When the numerals in a fraction in a reference to a mixed fraction—one with a whole number and a fraction—are rendered separated by a diagonal line, rather than in case format (when small numerals appear above and below a small horizontal line), a letter space should separate the whole number and the fraction.

3.
Original: The broadcaster’s first stint at ESPN was from 1992–1997.
Correct : The broadcaster’s first stint at ESPN was 1992–1997.
Alterna.: The broadcaster's first stint at ESPN was from 1992 to 1997.

In a number range, such as a span of years, "from" should precede the first number in the range only when "to" precedes the second number: "The broadcaster’s first stint at ESPN was from 1992 to 1997."

4.
Original: Six hours are plenty of time to complete the hike.
Correct : Six hours is plenty of time to complete the hike.

In American English, use a singular verb with a reference to a number of units constituting a single amount.

5.
Original: Only one out of three people approve of the proposed measure.
Correct : Only one out of three people approves of the proposed measure.

Use a singular verb after a phrase referring to a proportion such as "one out of three" or "one in three"; use a plural verb with all other numbers.

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