‘Several thousands of’ vs. ‘several thousand’ in English

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more (PDF Version).

“Hundred”, “thousand”, “million”, etc., when they are used in the names of numbers (i.e. when they are preceded with a number) are always in the singular and usually not followed by “of”, for example

There were two thousand people. (correct)
There were two thousands people. (wrong)
There were two thousands of people. (wrong)

A number is generally followed by “of” when we enumerate something else than a noun, for example:

We ordered five hundred of these. (correct)
We ordered five hundred these. (wrong)

The only case when “hundred”, “thousand”, etc. take the plural form is when they are used in the sense of “an unspecified number of hundreds/thousands/…”, e.g.

“Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do
with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” Susan Ertz
Thousands of people were left homeless after the floods.

The case of a few, several, many…

What do we do when we want to say “several hundred(s)”, “many thousand(s)”, “a few million(s)”, and the like? The number is unspecified, so it seems we should use the plural form, but still, it is a number, which indicates the singular form.

Indeed, some speakers do say “several hundreds of”, “a few millions of”, etc. However, the variant without “-s” and “of” is much more common and considered acceptable by all speakers, whereas the other variant is usually considered unnatural by those who don’t use it. It is therefore advisable to stick to the singular form:

There were several thousand people. (correct)
There were several thousands of people. (unnatural)

This article was based on my guide to the most common mistakes in English, which explains many similar topics. Why don’t you check it out?

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