would I use 4 instead of four because of the sixth following? No clear definition in APA. I am leaning towards "four sixth grade"

See example:

Once I have received approval from the principal, I will interview four sixth grade and four seventh grade mathematics teachers from the sixth and seventh grade mathematics PLCs.
asked Jul 15 '12 at 16:47 Vicki Murray New member

2 answers


There are really four issues at play here.


The first is the question: do you represent the ordinal numbers (sixth and seventh) as words or numerals in Vicki's sentence. All of the style manuals agree on this one; ordinals are spelled as words following the general rule for words versus numerals. Okay, that didn't help, but it does introduce the second question: what is the general rule for spelling numbers as words?


MLA and Chicago agree on this one, but APA differs. Under MLA and Chicago, the numbers 0-100 are usually spelled as words -- twenty-seven, fifty-nine, four. APA calls for the numbers 0-10 to be spelled as words.


The third issue is the question Vicki asks: does the nature of the following word change the general rule? No, not in the sentence Vicki posted. APA, MLA, and Chicago all urge consistency in the immediate context. Only if a paragraph (or series of paragraphs) contains many numbers, some where the general rule calls for using words and others where numerals should be used, should all of the numbers become numerals.


APA specifically addresses the names of school grades -- it is always Grade 6 or sixth grade, but never 6th grade.


Nonetheless, Vicki feels uneasy with "four sixth grade", and for good reason. However, the problem lies not with the number "four" but with "sixth grade". In Vicki's sentence, "sixth grade" is used as a compound adjective (an adjective + noun used as an adjective) modifying "mathematics teachers",  In this usage, a hyphen is required.


Once I have received approval from the principal, I will interview four sixth-grade and four seventh-grade mathematics teachers from the sixth- and seventh-grade mathematics PLCs.


Here is Patty's suggestion, properly hyphenated.


With approval from the principal, I will interview four teachers from each of the sixth- and seventh-grade mathematics PLCs.  

link edited Jul 15 '12 at 22:50 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

Ah, you are correct, sir! I've had this conversation about hyphens with the guy that writes or edits the marketing materials for my business. He's pretty good with those compound adjectives.

Patty TJul 15 '12 at 23:03

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I don't think you can use it.  In my opinion, I have seen people using four sevenths, four sixth power, four sixth decimal and so on.  

link answered Jul 15 '12 at 18:13 sanjay Expert

Sanjay, in North American the various levels of elementary and secondary education (for students age 5 through 17) are called "grades" and identified by an ordinal number -- sixth grade, second grade. When a student graduates from high school, they have completed the twelfth grade. At that point, the student may continue on to college.

Jeff PribylJul 15 '12 at 22:56

In India, we say "standard" and not "grades". Thanks for letting me know about your country.

sanjayJul 16 '12 at 03:59

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