Submitted by destabilizer  •  November 14, 2002

How old am I?

Am I 38 years old, or 38 year old, and why.

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Typcially, the hyphenation would be "38-year old man."
* 38-year modifies old
* old - which we already know is 38 - modifies man.

If you want to get dates online, though, it would be better to type "I am an 18-year old lesbian with hot, barely legal friends."

;)

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Biks is right about the hyphenation. The rule there is that "38-year-old" is a compound adjective -- a group of words functioning as a single adjective -- and therefore hyphenated. Other examples: a coke-bottle-shaped vase; a full-throttle spread-eagle spare-no-expense business presentation.

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You would usually put hyphens in 'a 38-year-old man'. It's easier to differentiate that way. I think the AP style uses this.

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My take on it is:
You are a 38 year old man.
And.
You are 38 years old.
When "year old" is a modifier to "man", it's singular.

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