This verbal phrase remains grammatical in Romance languages (eg: 'avoir X ans' in French).

closed as unclear what you're asking by curiousdannii, TimLymington, jimm101, tchrist, Nathaniel Mar 23 '16 at 1:45

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    This just makes me think of the movie "12 years a slave". – candied_orange Mar 20 '16 at 5:45
  • It's not ungrammatical, though it does sound old fashioned. What makes you say it is ungrammatical? – choster Mar 20 '16 at 6:13
  • Agreed with choster. It's still grammatical today, though any use of it will sound affected and draw attention to itself (which is likely why the movie CandiedOrange mentioned retained the original title). – Dan Bron Mar 20 '16 at 8:26
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    Your question is confusing. You ask about have X years, but the example sentences are of the form have been X years. The word been is very significant. – Barmar Mar 20 '16 at 10:18
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    I prefer the first version of this question because it gives in English the thought or sense you're asking about, as opposed to just the words in a specific order. It's also interesting and helpful when answering to see the source from which your question arose. – Lawrence Mar 23 '16 at 1:12

As mentioned in a comment, I’m not sure that your example (have been) matches your question (have), at least not close enough for me to understand how “…have been X years' appears to imply that 'to have X Years' was grammatical …”

However, even if your example and/or your interpretation of its implications are not perfect, it does not render invalid your good question as it is posed in the title header:

Did English ever admit the 'to have X years' verbal phrase?

My answer to that question is that modern English actually does admit/have/use the ‘to have X years’ verbal phrase, although it has not been abbreviated into a fixed expression, as it has been in your French example, used to tell how old one is.

I have always interpreted “avoir X ans” in French as an abbreviated form of “avoir X ans d’âge" where the d’âge, being so well understood when responding to “Quel âge avez-vous,” was at some point in the past deemed unnecessary and omitted (similar to how in English “I am 62 years old/of age” can be and often is reduced to just “I am 62”).
(see here in ‘Choix de Chroniques Et Mémoires Sur L'histoire de France: Avec Notices ...” by Jean Alexandre Buchon, via ‘Google Books’ for some early examples of “ [avoir] X ans d’âge”)

Although the French have seen fit to omit “d’âge” in the specific case of using “avoir X ans” in discussing/telling one’s age, they also use the “avoir X ans” verbal phrase in other contexts, with the specific type of years mentioned (d’expérience/de service/d'ancienneté, for example), just as in English:

"She has 25 years [of experience/of service/of seniority."

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