a stunning ninety-seven seconds

Gijoe

Senior Member
Korean
Hello,

this is an excerpt from The-Rembrandt-Affair by Daniel Silva
The sentence contains a and -s being used together. Is this an ok form?

The total time of the operation was a stunning ninety-seven seconds

Thank you
 
  • loghrat

    Senior Member
    British English / Danish
    Yes, Gijoe. It is ok. I can see why it may seem confusing, but think of it like this:
    The operation was extremely fast, the period of time it took was only ninety-seven seconds, so the 'a' refers to the unstated 'period of time' (of ninety-seven seconds).
     

    Gijoe

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Hi, I came back again on this issue. So can you clarify a few variations below?

    1. The total time of the operation was a ninety-seven seconds
    2. The total time of the operation was stunning ninety-seven seconds

    Would all these be correct?

    Thank you
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Unfortunately those are both wrong, Gijoe. This type of construction is uncommon, and I wouldn't say it's characteristic of very formal writing. It only works if there is an adjective before the number: "I spent an incredible six days and seven nights in Greece"; "In the end, he only paid me a measly fifteen dollars"; etc.

    The problem with your sentence (2) is that, without the article, the number must precede the adjective: "ninety-seven stunning seconds"; "three incredible weeks"; "fifty lousy euros"; etc.

    Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top