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Is is grammatically right to leave out the definite article in the following sentence?

what would change if the word about were not added?

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  • "to leave out".. left is not the infinitive but the past tense. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 10 at 15:02
  • @FumbleFingers what words behave like age regarding possible omissible material form the full prepositional phrase? – GJC Mar 10 at 15:19
  • I think it's really more about the word thirty (whether rendered in digits or letters) rather than age. Note that He was baptized at ten could mean age ten or ten o'clock, depending on context. You might also consider the choice between He was baptized in Liverpool and ...in the city of Liverpool (and note that those particular two are equivalent, but there could actually be a significant difference if we substitute London for Liverpoool there). – FumbleFingers Mar 10 at 15:36
  • @FumbleFingers what effect on grammaticality would adding the word old have on all possible combinations? At the age of 30 (years), At age 30 (years), At 30 (years)“ – GJC Mar 10 at 15:41
  • You'd always need to precede old by years. There's nothing syntactically wrong with at the age of 30 years old, but no-one would normally include both age and years old in the same construction. Most people wouldn't usually bother including either, since the intended meaning of the important bit (30) would normally be obvious anyway. – FumbleFingers Mar 10 at 15:48
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As a native speaker of American English, I'd say

... at about age thirty

or

... at about the age of thirty

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As a native speaker of British English, I would use either "around aged 30", or "around the age of 30" instead of "at about age 30".

The related things to know here are:

  • 'at about' is synonymous with 'around'
  • If 'age' is acting as a linking verb and '30' is the complement, then 'age' should be inflected to 'aged', because your sentence is in past simple tense. Furthermore, if 'age' is a linking verb, there is no reason to put the article 'the' in front of it.
  • If 'age' is acting as a noun, then 'of' must be placed between 'age' and '30', to represent the relationship between the words 'age' and '30' that gives the intended meaning. 'age' can also be used as a length of time, so 'age 30' could mean something entirely different to your intention. Furthermore, if 'age of 30' is our noun phrase, then we need to place 'the' before it, because it's a definite thing.

I would never say "at about the age 30" or "at about age 30", as it seems grammatically confused. Instead, I might say "At about aged 30", or "at about the age of 30", because they are grammatically correct. I would normally replace 'at about' with 'around' though.

EDIT. Without 'about', the correct phrases would be "at aged 30", or "at the age of 30".

EDIT EDIT. I would use "around aged 30", even if we were talking in present simple tense.

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    Rather than “around aged 30” I'd make it “aged around 30”. – Anton Sherwood Mar 10 at 16:38
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    I would use 'at about the age of 30'. – Kate Bunting Mar 10 at 17:45
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    You wouldn't say around age thirty (rather than "aged")? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 10 at 17:50
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    I'm questioning you specifically about your your statement at the top of your answer: I would use either "around aged 30" ... [my emphasis] Just want to make sure you would really say that and it wasn't a typo. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 10 at 18:09
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    @BradGraham That too caught my eye, as it wouldn't fly in American English. Someone can be aged around 30, around age 30, around 30, around the age of 30, at about the age of 30, or at the age of about 30, but never around aged 30. – choster Mar 10 at 18:45

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