Hello, everyone.

1. Five times three equals 15.
2. Five multipled by three equals 15.

I always thought "times" is a verb( with a somehow special usage) before I encountered "twice three" today.

So sentence (1) means five "three"s are 15,  whereas sentence (2) means three "five"s are 15.  They are basically different.  Do I get it right?

Last edited by Robby zhu
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Hi, Robby zhu, and happy 2022.

@Robby zhu posted:

1. Five times three equals 15.
2. Five multiplied by three equals 15.

I always thought "times" is a verb( with a somehow special usage) before I encountered "twice three" today.

So sentence (1) means five "three"s are 15,  whereas sentence (2) means three "five"s are 15.  They are basically different.  Do I get it right?

"Five times three" is just another way of saying "five multiplied by three." "Times" is a noun there. From a mathematical point of view, I don't see why you say they are different. As you know, multiplication is an operation that consists of calculating the result of adding up the multiplicand as many times as indicated by the multiplier. Wikipedia defines it as a repeated addition.

As you know, multiplication is an operation that consists of calculating the result of adding up the multiplicand as many times as indicated by the multiplier. Wikipedia defines it as a repeated addition.

I'm not sure, but as I understand it, the multiplicand is "3" and multiplier is  "5" in sentence(1).  It's the other way around in sentence(2), the result is the same though.

The order of the factors does not alter the product The order of the factors does not alter the product Happy 2022, Gustavo. I think I get it.

@Robby zhu posted:

1. Five times three equals 15.
2. Five multipled by three equals 15.

I always thought "times" is a verb( with a somehow special usage) before I encountered "twice three" today.

So sentence (1) means five "three"s are 15,  whereas sentence (2) means three "five"s are 15.  They are basically different.  Do I get it right?

@Robby zhu posted:

I'm not sure, but as I understand it, the multiplicand is "3" and multiplier is  "5" in sentence(1).  It's the other way around in sentence(2), the result is the same though.

Hello, Robby and Gustavo—Interesting topic. I once shared your sense, Robby, that "times" is a verb in sentences like (1), just as "plus" felt like a verb to me in sentences like "One plus one is two." But "plus" and "times" in this type of usage are actually categorized as prepositions. Quirk et al. call them "marginal":

Quote: "Less, minus, plus, times, and over form a special group in their use with numerals . . .:

6 + 2 is read as 'six plus two'.

- Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartvik. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, p. 667. Longman, 1985.

In another usage, however, times (along with twice, thrice, double, etc.) is categorized as a predeterminer (see Quirk et al., page 257). They give the examples double the sum and twice my salary. The latter expression could, of course, be reworded two times my salary.

Robby, it seems to me that your inclination to see the multiplier and multiplicand as being reversed in examples (1) and (2) may be due to your trying to parse times as a predeterminer in (1), such that the sentence might be read with fifteen as the subject:

(3) Fifteen equals five times three. (15 = 5 x 3)

I believe that (3) can be read in two different ways. The way it would normally be read is as a mathematical formula, the words standing for "15 = 5 x 3," and on that reading "times three" is a prepositional phrase. However, it seems possible to interpret it in such a way that it is analogous to (4) below:

(4) Fifteen [cars] equals five times three [cars].

Translation: "Fifteen cars equals five times that number of cars," where "that number of cars" is three cars (15 = 3 x 5). Last edited by David, Moderator

Thanks for the analysis, David.

Robby, it seems to me that your inclination to see the multiplier and multiplicand as being reversed in examples (1) and (2) may be due to your trying to parse times as a predeterminer in (1),

Yes, when I saw "Twice three is six",  it pushed me to think that it's simply a variant of  "Two times three is six." Therefore, "two times three" has the same structure as "twice three"-- "three" being the head, "two times" a dependant. "Two times" is a noun phrase, with "times" being the head. I didn't realize they could be semantically the same, but syntactically different. I think of a way to test it:

1* 5=5

One times five equals five. (not "time", I assume)

"Times" doesn't inflect for number, which supports the preposition analysis.

Last edited by Robby zhu