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I have a new teacher, and we've been communicating on WeChat. I wrote this:

我大部分时间在自学。目前我每一天花5个多小时在学习,包括周末(每个月150个多小时),不过……

She says that 每个月150个多小时 is incorrect and it should be 每个月150多个小时. Googling “100多个小时” (2+ million hits 101 hits) and “100个多小时” (16 hits) indicates this is indeed an error of some kind.

Question: Why is the 多 in 每个月150个多小时 misplaced?

I searched multiple questions on this topic: 1. Does 多 always come after the measure word? 2. How to correctly use "多" to say "more than"? 3. Can you still use "Number + MW + 多" when the Number can be more than one MW larger? I didn't find the answer, and sometimes putting the 多 after the measure word seems correct (e.g. 四块多美金 in this answer). I don't get it.


I made a plot using Baidu search hits (e.g. “150多个小时” and “150个多小时”) comparing n多个小时 vs. n个多小时 (note the non-linear x-axis):

Baidu hits for n多个小时 and n个多小时 as n varies.

This is perhaps why I'm so confused about this.

I'm starting to feel like the logic here is that 多 represents an unspecified least significant digit. So something like 三块 becomes 三块, whereas 三十块 becomes 三十块. I'm not sure if this is correct.

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Think of 多 after a measure word as "adding some more to the previous number, without making it to the next number".

5个多小时 = 5 hours plus some, but not quite 6 hours = between 5 and 6 hours

Note that 多 follows MW 个. It means between 五個小時 and 六個小時

150多个小时 = 150 hours plus some, but not quite 160 hours = between 150 and 160 hours

Here note that 多 follows MW 十 in 一百五十. It means between 一百五十個小時 and 一百六十個小時.

四块多美金 = between 4 and 5 USD

四十多块美金 = between 40 and 50 USD

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  • How would you just say "more than 40"? It could be 40.5, 50, 100, 234, 864553... I've never seen any other language making such a bizarre distinction. – Enrico Brasil Mar 10 at 15:01
  • @EnricoBrasil 四十以上,多於四十,多過四十 (Cantonese). These have no upper limit. The OP's question here is about an unspecified amount just over a certain number. I am not sure why this is considered bizarre. In English you can say something like "a bit more than X" or "a little over X", etc. They are basically the same idea. – monalisa Mar 10 at 17:08
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The difference in placement of 多 between

I. 一/二/⋯⋯/九 + 十/百/千/萬⋯⋯ + 多 + 量詞

II. 一/二/⋯⋯/九 + 量詞 + 多

can be explained by the fact that 多 follows a 'unit' (including both base-10 placeholders and quantifiers), not the numbers 1-9 themselves.

Considering base-10 placeholders and quantifiers as similar syntactical entities is justified by the following example:

a. 一千多萬個小時

b. *一千萬多個小時

Here, 一千多萬 in example a. follows Rule I., where 萬 is syntactically similar to a quantifier. As in, literally, there are 'a thousand plus ten-thousands'.

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