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!

  • 1
    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

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.

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

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