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In formal writing I like to do this (in British style):

  • The infant weighed 10lb 5oz;
    a 10lb 5oz infant

  • He was 6ft 3in tall;
    a 6ft 3in man

My question is about the plural usage: do we have to change

The infant weighed 10lb 5oz.


The infant weighed 10lbs 5ozs.

Or not?

I say no, but I’m really just reaching out for confirmation here.

Also, would you use my examples — with abbreviations for pounds, ounces, feet, and inches — in formal writing?

If not, how would you write it?

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Welcome to English Language & Usage. As it stands this question is incomplete. Please edit to include the research you did before asking for expert advice. Thanks. – MετάEd Apr 6 '13 at 13:59
Although "grammatical-number" isn't the best tag in the box for this question, it's a direct tag-synonym of "pluralisation" which is what I attempted to add here. – Andrew Leach Apr 6 '13 at 14:05
The infant weighed 10lb 5oz. Martha gave birth to a 10lb 5oz baby. The man stood 6ft 5in tall. Joe was a 6ft 5in behemoth. Are these okay? I researched the Guardian Style guide, but it didn't list the adjectival modifiers. Are all examples acceptable? – whippoorwill Apr 6 '13 at 14:11

If he is 6′3″ tall, then he’s a 6′3″ man, or a man who stands six foot three. We don’t say he stands “six ∗feet three”, but rather “six foot three”. Notice we don’t actually spell out inches there, at least not normally, because it’s completely obvious. So we just drop it. Usually.

Sometimes, though, you do make both plural because it would sound weird to have inches but foot rather than feet, so if you say inches in the plural, go ahead and say feet in the plural: “He stands six feet, three inches tall.”

Assuming he’s human, that you could say that he’s a real six-footer, he is, since only insects are six-feeters (well, six-footed, but still), not men — no matter how much they bug you.

And while you might have a ten-pound baby, you would say that the baby weight ten pounds. You do not make the unit plural when using it as a prefix; see?

This is all covered here.

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Good answer. For the sake of better clarity, please forgive my temerity in recasting two sentences in your answer as follows: "Assuming he's human, you could say he's a real six-footer, since only men, not insects, are six-footers, no matter how much they bug you. Insects, on the other hand, are six-feeters (or six-footed). And if you have a ten-pound baby, you could also say the baby weighs ten pounds. Do not make the unit plural when using it as a prefix." – rhetorician Apr 6 '13 at 19:07

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