This post is brought to you by the letter A and the number 1.
That's "a" as in "indefinite article meaning one." Watch out for redundancies when using "a" before a monetary amount beginning with "[symbol] + one."
Case in point, from a Deborah Solomon interview with the actress Cynthia Nixon in Sunday's Times Magazine:
It’s got to cost a $100 million.
Take out your blue pencil and delete that "a." Why? Read the sentence aloud: "It's got to cost a one hundred million." You wouldn't say it that way; you'd say, "It's got to cost one hundred million." Write it the way you'd say it.
(As a test, substitute another dollar figure. "It's got to cost a $200 million"? No.)
You would use "a" in two cases:
- When the dollar figure is used as a modifier: "I bought a $100 trillion war, and all I got were these lousy poll numbers!"
- When you're expressing the amount in words rather than numbers: "A hundred trillion? That's beginning to sound like real money!"
Another common redundancy: repeating "dollars" after "$100 million." The dollar symbol--$--is pronounced "dollars," and does not need to be spelled out.