Hyphens in Ages (with Examples)

by Craig Shrives
This Page Includes...

Hyphens in Ages

Hyphens are used in three types of age-related term:

(1) The compound-noun form.

For example:
  • A twenty-four-year-old paid the first tribute. correct tick
(2) The compound-adjective form.

For example:
  • She is a twenty-four-year-old woman. correct tick
(3) The predicate-adjective form.

For example:
  • She is twenty-four years old. correct tick
hyphens in ages

Ages As Compound Nouns

Here are some more examples of the compound-noun form:
  • He is a two-year-old with attitude. correct tick
  • (This is a compound noun. (It is just like words like ice-axe or cooking-oil, which are also compound nouns.) The words in a compound noun are linked together to show they are a singular entity.)
  • I look after three two-year-olds from 9 am to 11 am. correct tick
  • (As with most nouns, there is a plural version too.)
The compound-noun form stands alone. It does not modify the word that follows. Read more about compound nouns.

Ages As Compound Adjectives

Here are some more examples of the compound-adjective form:
  • He is a two-year-old horse. correct tick
  • (This is a compound adjective. It is no different from an adjective like "two-page" in "two-page document."

  • I look after three two-year-old horses. correct tick
  • (As with most adjectives, it can modify something singular or plural.)
The compound-adjective form does not stand alone. It modifies the word that follows ("horse" and "horses" in these examples). Read more about compound adjectives.

Ages As Predicate Adjectives

Here are some more examples of the predicate-adjective form:
  • Jason is two years old. correct tick
  • (The predicate-adjective form appears after a linking verb (here, "is") and after the noun it modifies (here, "Jason"). There is no need to use hyphens in the predicate adjective form.)
  • Jason is twenty-two years old. correct tick
  • (This version contains a hyphen only because twenty-two is spelled with a hyphen under the rules for writing numbers in full.)
Read more about predicate adjectives.

Help Us Improve Grammar Monster

  • Do you disagree with something on this page?
  • Did you spot a typo?

Find Us Quicker!

  • When using a search engine (e.g., Google, Bing), you will find Grammar Monster quicker if you add #gm to your search term.

See Also

Using apostrophes Using brackets parentheses Using colons Using commas Using dashes Using hyphens Using quotation marks Using semicolons