Learn English – Which is correct, “in the past one hundred years” or “in the past hundred years”?


We say "in a few years" but "in the past/last few years". Then how can we express
" the period of 100 years leading up to now"? Which is correct, "the last/past one
hundred years" or "the last/past hundred years"? Or both?

Best Answer

The two could be regarded as saying subtly different things, so the choice is yours. Neither is incorrect. However, a hundred is a thing for when there exists an English word, to which one may licitly refer as well as one may refer to a dozen. That is, a dozen is not merely a number in sequence between 11 and 13, but represents a poetically complete unit of a certain sort. The hundred is like that, as well.

Do you remember the Mudville Nine?

Therefore, on Orwell's principle to eliminate words one can do without, "the last/past hundred years" may be preferable, unless you feel that you have reason to write otherwise.

(Incidentally, if the period in question were 153 years, then it probably would not be ideal to write of "the past hundred fifty-three years." The usual editorial style in that case would be "the past 153 years" but, if one wished for some reason to spell the number out, then probably "the past one hundred fifty-three years." After all, it is unlikely that one would regard 153 as a poetical unit of completion like a dozen or a hundred.)