A few-week(s?)-old baby?

takiakos76

Senior Member
Hungarian
Hi!

Until now I thought that if you use "X-week-old" as an adjective, you use week, day, etc. in singular.
This is not the case if X is not a number, I suppose?

google books results:

"few-week-old baby" -- 20 results (so far I thought this was the correct version)
"few-weeks-old baby" -- 2990 results

==> even apart from the fact that google seems not to consider the hyphens and punctuation marks which might lead to quite some "false positives" in the second case, this suggests that the second variant is the correct one.

btw.:

"two-week-old baby" -- 7070 results
"two-weeks-old baby" -- 7079 results

Why not "few-week-old" and "two-week-old" when they are used as adjectives? Is there some additional rule that I'm not aware of?

Thanks!
 
  • Psychae

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Hey,

    "Two-weeks-old baby" sounds wrong to me, I'd only ever use the singular form.

    I don't think we'd say "few-week(s)-old" baby (in either singular or plural), you'd have to change the structure depending on the particular sentence.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    even apart from the fact that google seems not to consider the hyphens and punctuation marks which might lead to quite some "false positives" in the second case
    In addition to looking at the results, you should try the "page forward test." If you page forward in the results for "two-weeks-old baby," 7890 quickly turns into only 29 results.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The construction doesn't sound right at all with 'few' or 'several' or 'many'. If I had to use it, I'd use singular 'week' with it as with numbers, but I think you'd just say it some other way.
     

    takiakos76

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    In addition to looking at the results, you should try the "page forward test." If you page forward in the results for "two-weeks-old baby," 7890 quickly turns into only 29 results.
    Thanks, good hint!
    I have never heard about a "page forward test". On the google books search result page I don't see anything called that. How do I do that?

    Thank you!
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I can't see anything wrong with "a few weeks old baby". It has to be "weeks" because "few" requires the plural form. It's not easy to page through Google results using Chrome on a tablet, but I got many results from "two weeks old baby" (with the quotation marks). How else should you describe a baby who is a few weeks old? Examples from my search:
    "we got a backstage tour last time and got to see a few weeks old baby whale"
    "I have once used the pillow as a neck support to have a quick sleep and it was great for that too – for some much needed sleep with a few weeks old baby!"
    "A few-weeks-old baby was found abandoned in the Dome of the Rock on Monday,"
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Thanks, good hint!
    I have never heard about a "page forward test". On the google books search result page I don't see anything called that. How do I do that?!
    I put the phrase in quotes because it's something that I do and that's what I call it. There's no reason for Google to call it anything. At the bottom of the search results, you'll see this which allows you to page forward through the results.
    Google >
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next
    In one of your cases, you will only see
    Google >
    1 2 3 4 5 6 Next
    because it's already decided that there are less than 6 pages (60) of results even though it said 7,800 at the top. If you click on 6 to go to page 6, you'll find that you end up on page 4 as the last page.
     

    takiakos76

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I can't see anything wrong with "a few weeks old baby". It has to be "weeks" because "few" requires the plural form.
    a) so is "a few-week-old baby" incorrect?
    b) but then it would also have to be "two-weeks-old", because two would also require the plural form...?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Here's how it works for me, takiakos:
    a two-week-old baby:tick: a baby that's two weeks old:tick:
    a few-week-old baby:cross: a baby that's a few weeks old:tick:
    a two-storey house:tick: a house that's two storeys high:tick:
    a few-storey house:cross: a house that's a few storeys high:tick:

    I think the main problem is that the equivalent of "two" is "a few" - which would lead to oddities like an a-few-...
     
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