They were well in their fifties.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Jezuz, Feb 11, 2019 at 10:07 AM.

  1. Jezuz New Member

    While I am aware that it is far more commonly phrased as "They were well into their fifties", I still from time to time run into the "in" version of the phrase. Does it really sound off to a native speaker and if it doesn't is this even grammatical?

  2. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
  3. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    It's off to me. It's either 'They were well into their fifties' or 'There were in their late fifties'.
  4. You little ripper! Senior Member

    Australian English
    “They were well in their fifties” could mean that their state of health was good during their fifties. :D
  5. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    "Well in their fifties" sounds quite odd to me:(.
  6. You little ripper! Senior Member

    Australian English
    I prefer ‘into’. ‘Late fifties’ is even better.
  7. velisarius

    velisarius Senior Member

    British English (Sussex)
    For me too. I'm well into my sixties now, and I hope to be well in my seventies.
  8. kentix

    kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    I give it a thumbs down, too.:thumbsdown:

    You could also say "Well up in their fifties."
  9. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    Make that another :thumbsdown:.
  10. lingobingo

    lingobingo Senior Member

    English - England
    Another vote for “into” but definitely not “in”. I’ve never heard anyone put it like that.
  11. Chasint Senior Member

    English - England
    Are you certain that you haven't heard, e.g. "He is in his fifties." ?

    John is in his fifties. :tick:
    The train is in the tunnel. :tick:

    John is well into his fifties. :tick:
    The train is well into the tunnel. :tick:
  12. Jezuz New Member

    Yeah, I am quite certain. I hear it occasionally and also I've seen it in writing. Just to back me up, although I am not advocating the usage, here's a few google search results in books.
    "well in his fifties" - Google Search
    "well in his forties" - Google Search
    "well in his sixties" - Google Search

    They may be few in number, but they are out there. My non-native-speaker guess is that it may have something to do with the usage of "in" occasionally being synonymous with "into", as in "he dropped the watch in the toilet", or "dip it in sauce and then eat it". But I won't quote myself on this:D
  13. Chasint Senior Member

    English - England
    I'm surprised by those examples. For me they are ungrammatical.

    Here's a Google ngram showing the relative frequencies. As the graph shows, there was a peak in the frequency of "well in" around the 1960s. In the 2000s "well in" has dropped to almost nothing in comparison to "well into".

    Click to enlarge


    Google Ngram Viewer
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019 at 9:39 PM
  14. Jezuz New Member

    Thank you! However, most of the other experts don't seem to share your opinion, for some reason. Do you think this usage may be regional?

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