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When I looked up the word "half", I've found "two and a half year" is a correct phrase. But I've seen some Americans use "two years and (a) half" quite often and it confuses me. Is it correct to use any of the following phrases in conversation or writing?

  • two years and a half

  • two years and half

  • two and a half years

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    Have you tried looking up half in a dictionary to see what the dictionary examples look like? Or do anything else to find the answer before asking here? Doing so is required on StackExchange sites; questions that display no prior research efforts are closed as off-topic. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 7 '15 at 8:57
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I agree that "two and a half years" is the most common way to say it in English. But "two years and a half" is also very good English, perhaps a trifle on the literary side. You could also say "two years, and half of another".

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    Why would you agree? In what geographies do we encounter "two years, and half of another"? – Kris Apr 8 '15 at 5:50
  • What do you mean by geographies? – fdb Apr 8 '15 at 8:58
  • By "literary" you must mean "archaic", as the below NGram graph shows ;) – curiousdannii Apr 9 '15 at 12:57
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Typically, we say two and a half years.

But if someone asks you how old a child is, "years" is usually omitted: "He's two and a half."

It's not really a question of grammaticality; one way is just much more common than the others.

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[comment:]
I do not see anything ungrammatical about any of the alternatives. Maybe there's something that I do not know yet. However, I think two and half years is more common among non-native speakers, a likely influence of mother-tongue structure.


All four forms are good and acceptable. However, the trend seems to have changed around the turn of the century from two years and a half (now considered too literary/ too formal, perhaps) to two and a half years. The other two forms are found to a very small extent.

Google nGram two years and a half,two years and half,two and a half years,two and half years enter image description here

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  • The question was about what is correct, not what is "common among non-native speakers". – fdb Apr 7 '15 at 11:35
  • If two years and half is correct, is the half 6 months, or 12? I have the feeling that the article should be included. I'd say I drank two and a half coffee, not two and half coffee. – oerkelens Apr 7 '15 at 11:49
  • @oerkelens Great questions come from great minds! Two is just an adjective -- only the (unqualified, bare) noun gets the antecedent reference from half. Not that you are necessarily a non-native speaker of English, you'd naturally say "two and a half" with the indefinite article. – Kris Apr 8 '15 at 5:47

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