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I remember years ago being taught that “one and a half” is anderthalb, and being corrected when I mistakenly used eineinhalb, but I’ve heard eineinhalb a few times recently on the radio.

Any significant difference? A regional thing, perhaps?

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Interesting question, never thought about it until now :) – OregonGhost Aug 7 '11 at 15:22
up vote 11 down vote accepted

I learnt anderthalb when I was young. In the Duden, it's just a synonym for eineinhalb, so it doesn't seem to be regional. Eineinhalb is just regular, just like Zweieinhalb or Dreieinhalb. Or Eineinviertel, for that matter. Both forms are correct.

From the Grimm:

anderthalb, sesquialter, einundeinhalb. wie man dritthalb 2, vierthalb 3, fünfthalb 4 u. s. w. mit der ordinalzahl bildet, ist auch anderhalb vollkommen richtig, und die meinung, dasz der zählende auf die mitte oder hälfte von 1 zu 2 gelange, das andere (zweite) halb erreicht sei; auch heiszt es mhd. anderhalp (Ben. 1, 614b). als sich allmälich das gefühl für die ordinalität des wortes ander schwächte, begann man t von vierthalb, fünfthalb nachzuahmen und, gleich als gelte anderte für ander, anderthalb zu schreiben, wie nun allgemein üblich geworden ist. anderthalb ellen. 2 Mos. 25, 10, 17. 23; anderthalb pfund, anderthalb meilen; mein vatter hett nur einen arm, so hab ich anderthalben. Fischart Garg. 94b; seiner natur nach steht dies halb immer im sg.

If I understand correctly, it means that you get to the middle/half between 1 and 2, to the other half (andere Hälfte/anderhalb). The t was added in similarity to other ordinals, like in dritthalb, which seems to mean two and a half (the third half). These expressions are not used anymore today, I think, at least never heard them.

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"anderthalb" is widely used in Austria. At least colloquially. – Joachim Sauer Sep 9 '11 at 11:23
@Joachim Sauer: If I was unclear: I meant that dritthalb, vierthalb etc. are not used anymore. Anderthalb is still used widely. – OregonGhost Sep 11 '11 at 14:54
Just to add: As far as I remember, andert used to mean zweit, hence anders - the (second) possibility. It's still used as the ordinal number in Danish. – fifaltra Jan 17 '14 at 13:46

Maybe there are regional differences, but here (Upper Austria) anderthalb sounds somewhat dated or like dialect speech. Good choice for written text would be eineinhalb or 1½.

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I learnt eineinhalb when I was young and that was before I studied mathematics. But I have no problems with people using anderthalb.

I can't say ngram what ngram exactly tells, perhaps that people prefer to use number symbols today or that everyday items are manufactured in sizes, that needs less fractions. Did you ever try to warm up 1 1/2 meals in your microwave oven?

In any case the usage of both forms tends to be equal today.

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pretty equal… – Hauser Aug 7 '11 at 16:30

"Eineinhalb" is clumsy, hard to speak and hard to read. Hence, the better choice is "anderthalb".

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To me "eineinhalb" feels somewhat more formal than "anderthalb". I would prefer "anderthalb" when speaking, while in writing I would use either depending on the context.

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