English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Possible Duplicate:
Adjective Pluralization

  1. He's a fifty-year-old man.
  2. He's fifty years old.

I'm fine with the first of these two sentences, in which "fifty-year-old" is a compound adjective.

In the second sentence, is "fifty years old" also a compound adjective? If not, is "fifty" an adjective modified by "years old"? I can't work it out!

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by coleopterist, MετάEd, Carlo_R., Daniel, Cameron Oct 6 '12 at 5:43

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

Thanks @coleopterist. I missed that post when searching for my question before posting, but the answer was there. – spartanmouse Oct 5 '12 at 14:32
up vote 2 down vote accepted

In the second sentence, old is a predicate adjective which modifies the subject He.

The term fifty years is a quantifying phrase used as an adverb to modify the adjective old. It is a compound adverb.

How old? Fifty years old.

share|improve this answer
That's exactly what I was looking for but couldn't find. Thanks so much! – spartanmouse Oct 5 '12 at 14:28

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.