13

For most nouns which have no singular form, fractions are meaningless (e.g. штаны, ножницы, весы), but there are a few such nouns where this is not the case. For example, how do I say "it went on for a day and a half" using the word сутки? Это длилось полторы сутки sounds obviously wrong, and so does every other form of полтора that I could think of.

  • Can you please add other examples of such nouns? – xyzman Jun 14 '12 at 19:46
  • @xyzman I must say that none come to mind.. Maybe каникулы, but that would be a bizarre sentence in any case. – Vitaly Mijiritsky Jun 15 '12 at 4:52
5

In this case, это длилось полтора суток.

With this particular numeral, general rule is to use genitive case of singular form ("полтора чего? дня" or "полторы чего? бутылки"). However, as with plural-only nouns have no singular form, grammatically correct would be to avoid using this at all. However, if one looks up "полтора суток" in any search engine, they would find a lot of published literature containing this combination of words. In this case, general rule would be to assume that singular form of "сутки" is still "сутки" and use genitive case of this word.

Gramota.ru has a sub-article regarding this question with the very same conclusion: if you have to use this exact form of "полтора суток" in your text, treat it as exception of general rule.

By the way, try comparing this use of 1 1/2 with other, more "popular" fractions of both countable and uncountable nouns:

  • 1/3 - треть дня, треть буханки, треть суток, треть денег
  • 1/2 - половина дня, половина буханки, половина суток, половина денег
  • 1/4 - четверть дня, четверть буханки, четверть суток, четверть денег

As you see the same principle, "masculine nominative numeral + genitive singular noun" --> "masculine nominative numeral + genitive plural noun" applies to other fractions as well.

7

Regarding building phrases combining полтора and сутки, one should bear in mind that these words cannot be put together when the word сутки is either in именительный (latin: nominative) or in винительный (latin: accusative) grammatical case.

So, in your case it's better to say:

Это длилось в течение полутора суток.

or

Это длилось до полутора суток.

Note the form of the word полтора in such cases: полутора!

0

Полторы суток? Or just 36 часов.

  • 2
    If we're replacing words, you could always say полтора дня :). – Vitaly Mijiritsky Jun 14 '12 at 19:41
  • Somehow that sounds strange too... Just round it up. :) – Dima Jun 14 '12 at 19:42

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