Is the word order in the quantity correct in the following sentence?

The boy is 3 years and a half old.

If not what would be the right way to say it?

  • 2
    At least we're adding a half...not dividing by half. that's where it gets all wahoonie-shaped.
    – JeffSahol
    Aug 26, 2011 at 23:27
  • 1
    @simchona I think that brilliant could be influenced from his first language; I think it's difficult for him to explain where he has doubts. For example, in Italian I would say 3 anni e mezzo, which literally is "3 years and a half"; if I were not sure how to translate it from Italian to English, I think I could have problems in explaining which part confuses me.
    – apaderno
    Aug 26, 2011 at 23:42
  • 2
    Which means that prior to asking a question I was supposed to learn a whole lot of other things, precisely, how to formulate my question so as to make it understood for a native speaker :) It's like a vicious circle: (step 1) if you have a problem in English, go ahead and ask it here, but be sure you do it correctly in English. (step 2) If you don't know how to describe your question in English correctly, go to step 1 :)
    – brilliant
    Aug 27, 2011 at 0:14
  • You could ask a question about how asking a question, but first you should ask a question about how asking a question that is about asking a question. Before that, you could ask a question about how asking a question that is about asking a question that is about asking a question about asking a question; to start, you could ask a question […].
    – apaderno
    Aug 27, 2011 at 2:15

2 Answers 2


Number quantities in English should be written with the number before the thing being counted. That is,

There are [quantity][type of quantity]

For example, the following are correct:

He is [three][years old]

He is [three and a half][years old]

This also works with other quantities, like weight or mass:

I have [5 and a quarter][pounds of apples]

I have [5][dollars] and [42][cents]

  • 3
    This may be the best answer I've ever seen. It explains the English rule, the intuition behind it, and gives more than enough examples both in its simple case and in more complicated cases. Simchona <3
    – Jeremy
    Aug 27, 2011 at 3:47
  • 1
    @simchona - Thanks for editing the title of my question, but... don't you think that "How should I write this number quantity?" is a bit too general? I mean, if anyone else wanted to ask this question (about "three and a half years old") and before asking it tried to look through the database of question to see if his question had already been asked, if he stumbled upon "How should I write this number quantity?", most likely he would think that that question was not about reporting someone's age.
    – brilliant
    Aug 27, 2011 at 14:42
  • @brilliant: I edited the question in the hopes that more people will be able to find your question, because other people may have similar questions. I'll edit it, though, so that it reflects more of whats in this thread
    – user10893
    Aug 27, 2011 at 20:27
  • +1!
    – Daniel
    Aug 27, 2011 at 22:45
  • 1
    I agree with the answer. One archaic exception that proves the rule is "four score years and ten". Reminds me of: english.stackexchange.com/questions/18966/…
    – Hugo
    Aug 31, 2011 at 7:38

No, you should say "The boy is three and a half years old."


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