The difference between Million and Millions
Which of the following sentences is grammatically correct?
A: New Zealand has a population of over four million people
B: New Zealand has a population of over four millions people
The first sentence (A) is correct and the second sentence (B) is incorrect. Why?
English students often get confused about when to put an S on the end of words like hundred, thousand, and million. Below are the rules:
When we have large numbers or a specific number, we do NOT put an S at the end of hundred, thousand, and million.
We say five thousand (correct)
NOT five thousands (incorrect).
Sometimes we say a hundred instead of one hundred and a thousand instead of one thousand (and the same for a million).
Remember, when we are talking about an exact number (e.g. one million, eight thousand, two hundred and sixty-four), we do not put an S on the end of any of the numbers.
We can use an S at then of hundreds, thousands, millions etc to express an approximate figure.
This gives people an idea of quantity but not a precise amount.
In addition hundreds/thousands/millions etc are often followed by of + countable noun
As we are using plurals here, you should never put A in front of hundreds, thousands or millions.
- He won a million dollars in the lottery
= He won exactly $1,000,000
- He won millions of dollars in the lottery
= He won an unspecified amount but it was in the millions.
We often use hundreds/millions etc when we want to give the impression of ‘very many’ and we are often exaggerating, using the numbers as a figure of speech.
I went camping in Australia and returned with hundreds of mosquito bites!
This is obviously an exaggeration but it gives the impression of very many.
I went camping in Australia and returned with one hundred mosquito bites.
This gives an impression that you literally have one hundred bites on your body. It sounds like you counted them since it is a specific number.
See our vocabulary notes about Numbers in English.