A 10-year-older

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PaoloFR1

Senior Member
Italian - Italy
His car is 10 years older than mine.
This sentence sounds natural.

But what about this one?
He has a 10-year-older car.
Is it grammatically correct? I have heard a native speaker telling it. So, I guess it is correct.
 
  • Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    No, it is not. It should be a 10-years-older car.
    This is not the same as a 10-year-old car which can be that or a 10-years-old car (the former being more usual)
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    No, the difference is that 10 years older is stating a comparison. The usage 10-year-old to describe age is something that has evolved as the normal way of saying 10-years-old (which if you think about it should be the correct way of saying something is 10 years old). Describing a car as a 10-years-older car is not everyday English. The normal way of saying it is "his car is 10 years older than ...". I'd go so far as to suggest that it is a very odd way of saying that one car is older than another. Indeed, I can find no instances of either years-older or year-older in the British National Corpus, and without the hyphen there are no year older or years older followed by a noun.
     

    PaoloFR1

    Senior Member
    Italian - Italy
    No, the difference is that 10 years older is stating a comparison. The usage 10-year-old to describe age is something that has evolved as the normal way of saying 10-years-old (which if you think about it should be the correct way of saying something is 10 years old). Describing a car as a 10-years-older car is not everyday English. The normal way of saying it is "his car is 10 years older than ...". I'd go so far as to suggest that it is a very odd way of saying that one car is older than another. Indeed, I can find no instances of either years-older or year-older in the British National Corpus, and without the hyphen there are no year older or years older followed by a noun.
    Thank you very much for your explanation.
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    In case you want a second opinion, I fully agree with Andygc: "a ten-years-older car" is not everyday English.
    I might not go so far as to say it's ungrammatical, but, as Andygc said, it's "very odd".
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    I agree, but that doesn't mean it can never be used. I mean, it's not that odd. ;) If you're looking for the normal, conventional, conversational way to say this, it's certainly not the best choice. But if, as happens to us all from time to time, you wanted to express this thought in an unusual way, it would be fine. It's grammatical, and it's understandable, too.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    To my surprise, I have found a single example in the Corpus of Contemporary American English
    than his twelve year-older partner
    This is a transcription of a letter written by Fowler (of Modern English Usage fame) to his brother. He didn't hyphenate twelve year, so what is one to think? Of course, we do not know if the transcription was accurate.

    That still makes it pretty unusual, and contradicts my insistence on years, but I reckon he was wrong (if the transcription was correct) :cool:.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The particular adjectival phrase 'ten-year-older' may be unusual, but two-month-older babies, students and cousins are to be found on the web, along with five-foot-wider swaths, roadways etc.
    No doubt other similar cases could be found: and these seem sufficient to validate the construction, even though the punctuation varies.

    Other studies have shown the correlation with visual acuity with two month older babies and the volume of dha intake their mothers had.
    http://www.articlesbase.com/womens-health-articles/dha-supplements-during-pregnancy-5803619.html

    But he liked being around his two month older cousin.
    http://www.babycenter.com/404_when-do-babies-begin-benefiting-from-group-play_6819.bc

    "A freshman student is nothing more than a two-month-older high school student"
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2827681/posts

    more than made up for it with the five-foot wider swath ...
    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...r_esc=y#v=onepage&q="five-foot-wider"&f=false

    allow for a five foot wider half roadway
    http://eng.lacity.org/docs/dpw/agendas/2009/200909/20090921/st/20090921_ag_br_st_1.pdf

    Warren asked if that would be true even with the five foot wider channel.
    http://www.cityof.lawton.ok.us/citycode/city_council_meeting_minutes/Year_1999/4/6.html
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    Andygc, I'm happy to meet a fellow fan of that corpus!
    I searched in it for "*year-older", with an initial asterisk (wild card) to capture expressions with a number or numeral properly (!) hyphenated before "year".
    Here's what I got:
    2006, "Parenting" (magazine): "When I casually mentioned to Julia that her one-year-older cousin, Lauren, couldn't ride a two-wheeler, either,..."
    1991, "ArtBulletin" (academic): "...made a concerted effort to win her as wife for Maurits Huygens, Constantijn's one-year-older brother (1595-1642)."
    These may seem odd at first, but they might also become oddly wordy if we tried to give the same information in an "unpacked" way.

    (There's also "a sixty-year-older", "a 25-year-older", etc. as a nouns, which doesn't concern us here.)
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Cenzontle - I'm perfectly happy with one-year-older, since I see that as correctly singular.

    wandle - Thank you and that's interesting. I have no problem with those examples (although I still think that they should be months and feet). I think I have a problem with the original sentence He has a 10-year{s}-older car because it lacks the surrounding context that they have - they have a comparison within the text and they are not bald statements.
     
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