# a stunning ninety-seven seconds

#### Gijoe

##### Senior Member
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
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).

Thank you.

#### Gijoe

##### Senior Member
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
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.

#### Gijoe

##### Senior Member
Thank you very much, Glenfarclas.

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