so soon they were all seated at Beorn's table, and half had not seen such a gathering for many a year.

Why is many a year used? Should not many years be used?
What is the difference between many a year and many years?

  • 2
    Usage of “many” vs “many a”?
    – Em1
    Apr 3, 2013 at 14:37
  • 1
    Another excerpt from Sherlock with the same idiosyncrasy: IN THE CENTRAL portion of the great North American Continent there lies an arid and repulsive desert, which for many a long year served as a barrier against the advance of civilisation.
    – DimanNe
    Nov 9, 2019 at 14:51

2 Answers 2


"Many years" has always been the preferred and more grammatical usage:

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"Many a year" as barbara points out is almost exclusively used as a poetic or stylistic variant, but in normal English you should use "many years" instead.


"many a year" is poetic or literary. It's not often used in everyday conversation, except for dramatic effect. (And then it probably calls attention more to the speaker than to the event being talked about.)

  • Is ‘many a year’ grammatically correct? Apr 5, 2013 at 12:54
  • @EnglishLearner -- Yes, it is grammatically correct, but very rare in conversation or ordinary prose. It is heard most frequently, I think, in poems or songs. (A memorable one, "Many a New Day", was a highlight of the play "Oklahoma", which was popular when I was a child. I believe a movie clip with it can be found on YouTube. The expression "many a new <something>" occurs over and over again in the lyrics.) Apr 5, 2013 at 14:09

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