Died at (an/the) early age of XX

Which is the correct article to use in the above phrase/clause ?

E.g. A. It was most unfortunate that he died at the early age of 41.

B. It was most unfortunate that he died at an early age of 41.

Which, out of A and B, is the correct sentence ? Usually I have heard an being used in above clause but don't whether its okay to use the or not. This sentence is from an error spotting excercise.

1 Answer 1


Option A ('the') is correct.

We would say:

He died at the early age of 41.

But if no specific age was given, we'd say:

He died at an early age.

The latter is indefinite, vague as to the specific age, so takes the indefinite article. The former (age 41) is a specific, definite age, so takes the definite article, because there is only one "age of 41".

Similarly we would say "At an early age, I began to ..." but "At the age of seven, I began to ...".

If we just wanted to say the age on its own, we'd say "He died at 41", but to specify it more explicitly, we'd say "He died at the age of 41" or a bit less formally "He died at age 41".

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