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hyphenated adjective Options
Atatürk
Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2019 3:30:41 PM

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Location: İstanbul, Istanbul, Turkey
Hi,

Why do we say "a two-year-old boy" but "a two-thirds increase"?

Ite, maledicti, in ignem aeternum!
sureshot
Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2019 11:37:23 PM
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Atatürk wrote:
Hi,

Why do we say "a two-year-old boy" but "a two-thirds increase"?

____________________

We say "two-year-old boy" and "a two-thirds increase".

In the first case, "year" is a noun functioning as an adjective. Adjectives are not plural. In the second case "two-thirds" is a fraction. It is a unit that is taken together to convey the intended meaning. The entire expression with an "s" already exists. It is used as an adjective of "increase".
palapaguy
Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2019 12:27:59 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/28/2013
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Location: Calabasas, California, United States
sureshot wrote:
Atatürk wrote:
Hi,

Why do we say "a two-year-old boy" but "a two-thirds increase"?

____________________

We say "two-year-old boy" and "a two-thirds increase".

In the first case, "year" is a noun functioning as an adjective. Adjectives are not plural. In the second case "two-thirds" is a fraction. It is a unit that is taken together to convey the intended meaning. The entire expression with an "s" already exists. It is used as an adjective of "increase".


Good answer. Applause

It is most important to understand that the main purpose of English grammar is to, first, understand and then to clearly convey the meaning of thoughts.

So, spelled-out numbers are not always treated as singular or plural. "Two-year-old boy" may be hyphenated or not, depending upon context and meaning.

Grammar is not simply an analytical tool. It should not be used to analyze words separately from their meaning and then to apply rules to them as is done in science. Mastering grammar is all about learning common usage, and that is achieved through practice and interaction, not through applying rules.

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