Single digits

“Real GDP did not get above its 1929 level until 1936, and it took until 1941 for the unemployment rate to drop back into single digits.”

I wonder why the PLURAL form “digits” comes after “single”, which seems to mean “one”.

1, 2, 3, …, 8, 9, 0—ARE these single digitS? (I suppose so.)

My 2 cents.

Here it is single digits because the unemployment rate may be 9%, 8%, 5.% … In other words one of many single digits (not just one particular digit). In this situation though, even 4.53% would refer to single digits because the main part of the number is 4.

Also a single digit refers to any number under 10 because it has only one number. Examples:

  • triple digits: 245, 137, 898
  • double digits: 10, 75, 99
  • single digitS: 0, 1, 2, 3… 8, 9

Hope that helps


1 Like

Because “single” is the adjective of the noun “digits.” In English, adjectives go first… Single is not a noun here; it modifies the noun “digits”.

What a clear explanation by @mikebooks: enough to warm the cockles of one’s heart (my digits, alas, remain cold and stiff).

One of the single digits is “1”.
“1” and “2” are single digits.
“1” is a single-digit number.

A single bed, two single beds, three single beds, . . .
There are two single-bed rooms in the house.

1 Like