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  1. Banned
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    #1

    Hyphenation and Compounds

    I encountered the following two phrases:


    1- 28-year-old woman

    2- two-thirds majority


    My question is, why is it that in the first one the word year is written in singular form, and in the second one the word thirds is plural ?

    Thanks in advance.

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    #2

    Re: Hyphenation and Compounds

    Quote Originally Posted by screamerer View Post
    I encountered the following two phrases:


    1- 28-year-old woman

    2- two-thirds majority


    My question is, why is it that in the first one the word year is written in singular form, and in the second one the word thirds is plural ?

    Thanks in advance.


    NOT A TEACHER


    (1) Maybe it might help you to remember that these "rules" are often arbitrary.

    That is, over time certain people have been successful in convincing teachers

    that something is correct. Then the teachers (and their books) keep repeating the

    "rule" until most people accept it. In other words, when it comes to hyphens, there

    may not be any really good "reason." (Before World War II, some people still

    spelled "today" as "to-day." Then "someone" (important newspapers? important

    writers?) decided to spell it "today." )

    (2) I am looking at one of the most respected grammar books that are used by

    teachers: A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (1985 edition).

    On page 397, it says that we should say:

    "a three-quarter majority" but "a two-thirds majority." It does not explain the

    difference except to say "Note the [difference]"!!!

    (3) And that book supports the rule that you already know about:

    A ten-year-old girl. / Two-digit inflation./ A ten-dollar bill.

    (4) But that rule has an exception, too:

    (a) A book entitled The Grammar Book (which is used by many teachers) tells us that

    the measure word "year" is singular in "It's a fifty-year-old house" because that is

    the rule. But it then tells us that we should say: "Greece: A Centuries-old Framework

    for Contemporary Living." Why? Because the rule only applies to specific measures

    (that is, with a number). So "Five-centuries-old" would not be correct.

  2. Banned
    Interested in Language
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    #3

    Re: Hyphenation and Compounds

    Many thanks to the answerer. I appreciate that you mentioned those books.

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