What are the rules on hyphens in ages: 20-year-old...two hyphens?


What are the rules on hyphens in ages: 20-year-old...two hyphens, one after year or none?  I feel as though I've seen it each way.

asked Apr 01 '13 at 12:26 Lawrence Collette New member

5 answers


If the adjective phrase (twenty-year-old) comes before the noun it modifies, use hyphens AND no -s on 'old'; if the adjective phrase comes after the verb (usually be or some other non-action verb) AND not before a noun, don't use any hyphens and add -s on 'old.


My twenty-year-old cousin lives in Paris.

He is twenty years old.

He is a twenty-year-old Canadian man.

link edited Apr 04 '13 at 11:55 Shawn Mooney Expert

Hi, please as regards the instances you gave,the third instance to be specific. You wrote;" he is a canadian man", does that seemed correct or.......

cedeeqSep 12 at 08:37

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You may have seen it both ways, but that doesn't mean both are right.


He's a 22-year-old man with the mind of  10-year-old.

He is 22 years old.

He fits in with the group of 10- to 12-year olds. 

He's a twenty-two-year-old man with the mind of  ten-year-old.

He is twenty years old.

He fits in with the group of ten- to twelve-year olds. 


SOURCE: Chicago Manual of Style

link comment answered Sep 10 '14 at 17:51 Brach New member

Or it could read: "The three sisters are twenty-four years old."

link comment answered Oct 30 '14 at 17:52 coollittlealien New member

Without properly placed (or properly-placed) hyphens, "The three sisters are twenty four year olds" is ambiguous. I am tempted to interpret that sentence as a metaphor meaning the three sisters are as high maintenance as twenty four-year-olds. Or, I could turn it into the following equations:

3 sisters=20 four-year-olds

3 sisters=24 one-year-olds


I would write it as: "The three sisters are 24-year olds."

link comment answered Aug 31 at 18:36 S Turner New member

According to Shawn Mooney, the following is correct:

"The three sisters are twenty four year olds."

Just sayin'...

link answered Aug 27 '14 at 08:44 Grammar Nazi New member

In the 1st place, integers between 21 and 99 are hyphenated. So Shawn is already wrong. In the 2nd place, it should read: The three sisters are twenty-four-year-olds.

BrachSep 10 '14 at 19:17

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