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In the book "The Shanghai Free Taxi", there is a sentence that I don't quite understand:

"Nice to meet you," said Ray's daughter, Dora, who addressed me in English and seemed remarkably poised for six.

What does "for six" mean in this sentence? Does it mean "quite a bit"?

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    Is Dora six years old?
    – Kreiri
    Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 8:42
  • As Kreiri implies. 'For a six-year-old' (etc) is transparent, but is often shortened to 'for six'. Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 9:42
  • I added a VTC for belonging on ELL. Should I delete my answer? Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 9:56

1 Answer 1

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It means Dora is six years old, and remarkably poised for being so young.

When we say someone is [adjective] for a [trait], we mean that you wouldn't expect a standard person exhibiting that trait to embody that adjective.

What may be confusing you here is that it also contains ellipsis of the word "being" and the elaboration on the age; the full sentence would be

"Nice to meet you," said Ray's daughter, Dora, who addressed me in English and seemed remarkably poised for [being] six [years old].

Omission of words in a phrase can be a useful way of conveying information more concisely when the context is clear. In this case, the writer seems to be relying on the reader knowing that the only logical interpretation of the word "six" here is a reference to Dora's age, but in this case it seems to have resulted in an ambiguity where you thought perhaps "for six" was an idiomatic phrase you hadn't encountered before, similar to its use in "knocked for six" which means to be considerably shocked or upset.

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  • Is there a reason why you think this wouldn't be more suitable on ELL? Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 9:52
  • @EdwinAshworth Nope, just hadn't thought of moving it there. Good call. Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 9:52
  • Thanks so much, somehow I didn't come up with the meaning, I don't know what I was thinking and why I didn't put it in context, Thanks for your detailed and professianal explanation and your patience, you really shed light for me .
    – William Chang
    Commented Aug 9, 2019 at 1:07

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