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I'm watching Gilmore Girls. In the show, a guy says A: Here where they sleep, "a solid 8 hours every night."

But 8 hours is a plural. How can an a comes before a plural? As far as I know, you can only say "I waited for solid 3 hours."

Is the solid used in the first different than the one below?

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    You actually can't say "I waited for solid three hours" - you have to say "I waited for three solid hours." It's a very good question, though!
    – stangdon
    Nov 10, 2017 at 4:13

1 Answer 1

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I had never thought about this, but it is interesting. The best I can do is to think how the word "solid" works here. It implies continuity, with no gaps, so that the period becomes one object in your perception. I think that the ungrammatical "a" serves to reinforce this. It can be used in other contexts "we walked a solid fifteen miles" Something that might have been broken into smaller pieces is perceived as a unity.

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    Why do you call the 'a' ungrammatical? I find it appropriate to introduce a single unit: a solid eight hours (of sleep). One can drive 30 miles (plural), or one can make a (single) 30-mile trip.
    – Davo
    Nov 10, 2017 at 12:32
  • Strictly speaking it is ungrammatical, but the are several ways that an imagined interpolation would make it grammatical again. I think thats how it works. But of course there is no objection to "a 30-mile trip" or to "an 8-hour sleep".
    – Philip Roe
    Nov 10, 2017 at 18:20

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