Did you mean one-dollar bills?

Imagine what 426,000,000,000 one-dollar bills look like. Then imagine people spending those individual paper bills on beauty products. That’s what they did, according to Yahoo! Beauty:

dollars were spent

The writer is so funny! She probably doesn’t even realize what she wrote, as opposed to what she meant. She meant an amount of money, which is singular. So even though it looks like a lot and it looks like a plural, $426 billion is singular and takes the singular verb was spent.


4 Responses to “Did you mean one-dollar bills?”

  1. lectorconstans Says:

    This one’s interesting. If you read it, you could say “426 billion dollars” (because of the dollar sign), and then it would be “were spent”. But you could also read it as “426 billiion was spent”.

    Either way, that’s a lot of dollars.

  2. Laura Says:

    No, even if you read it as “426 billion dollars” (which is how most people would read it), the verb is still “was spent” since the amount is considered a single entity and not individual dollars.

  3. Old Man Says:

    Perhaps this is a British construct. British English uses the plural when referring to a collective noun, as in “Manchester were leading the league.” American English uses the singular, as in “Boston was leading the league.”

    • Laura Says:

      That’s possible. All the authorities I checked with were American, so I can’t say if it’s different in other English-speaking countries.

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