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I came across the following sentence in an American newspaper.

"Guests young and old ended up loving the fun socks they were given at the party."

Does it make any difference if they say "young and old guests" instead of "guests young and old?"

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3 Answers 3

It's just a stylistic flourish here more than anything else. The meaning isn't any different than "young and old guests".

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The more common construction in English is to have the modifier precede the noun. The placement of an adjective after a noun is much less common and serves to emphasize the adjectival quality. Sometimes such noun/adjective constructs become standard phrases, such as light fantastic.

In the present example, the placement of a pair of adjectives after the noun serves to emphasize the range of guests who are affected.

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The meaning is the same, but the stress the journalist wants to put is more on the word "guests" rather than " young and old". In the other instance the sentence is just the opposite. So no grammatical error or difference, but a question of style and attention to words you want to put in evidence.

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