Sometimes certain words are joined together by using a hyphen. And for people not too familiar with how English works, it can be slightly confusing to know when you should or shouldn’t use them.
Today, we’ll focus on the phrase “year and a half”. We’ll look at what this phrase means, what the hyphens do, and whether either is technically correct. Is it grammatically correct, or would it be better to spell it as “year-and-a-half”.
“Year and a half” or “Year-and-a-half”?
“Year and a half” is usually the correct term. Because you wouldn’t normally use hyphens when talking about time.
However, when you want the phrase to be treated like a single word, you should use hyphens.
What does “Year and a half” mean?
Firstly though, let’s look at what a “year and a half” actually means. Some people might think that it means precisely 548 days. But people who think this are making the mistake of using maths rules for language.
Maths is set in stone and consistently what it says. However, when someone says “year and a half”, they give a rough indication of time scale and do not give you a specific amount of time. Usually, when something takes “a year and a half”, it will take anywhere between one and two years.
“Year-and-a-half” is correct when it’s treated as one word
One of the functions of the hyphen is to combine two different words into a single word. For example, I might not be big, and everyone is headed. But you might call me big-headed.
When you say “year-and-a-half”, you are treating it as a single word. The best example I can think of is that you might have a “year-and-a-half rule”. This could be that whenever you go on Holiday, you wait a year and a half for the next one.
When a phrase is hyphenated, you could replace the whole phrase with a single word. I might replace “year-and-a-half rule” with “holiday rule” or “work-life-balance rule”.
“Year and a half” or “one and a half years”
Suppose we want to be super nitpicky about language. In that case, we could even argue that “year and a half”isn’t technically grammatically correct. Yes, I know it’s odd that a grammar blog is writing about a grammatically incorrect phrase.
The correct version would be “one and a half years”.
When we have a plural, which is anything more than one, the correct thing to do would be to add an S. Therefore, because 1.5 is more than 1, we would use the same grammar rules that we would do if it were two.
This doesn’t really matter
However, as we’ve already mentioned in several of our previous blogs, the rules of language are not set in stone, and they aren’t set out by an omnipotent body.
The rules of the “right” or “wrong” ways to talk are defined by society and the people who inhabit it. Therefore, even though an English professor might not be too keen on the phrase “year and a half”, so long as the person you’re talking to knows what you mean, that’s all that matters.
Having said that, having common rules does help us all communicate better.
8 examples of “year and a half”
“Mr. Schoene, where an employee has been employed for 15 years and has entitlement of a year and a half unemployment pay”
“According to your figures, there was a slight decrease of the liquor entered for consumption in the year and a half prior to the repeal of the Scott Act, as compared with the year and a half subsequent.”
“I said, ” My God, for a year and a half, you had a productive person, a human being again.
“We have never done one of these, but we estimate another year and a half – you are probably talking about the end of 1995 or early 1996.”
“In terms of phasing out that activity, the first year or year and a half would be spent in pulling together the agreements with other agencies.”
“they said, “your fine is one year and a half’s annual value of the property.”
“It took a year and a half to negotiate the sale, with splendid cooperation out of the field office, splendid cooperation out of HUD property disposition.”
“Although relatively few hogs produced by breeding more than a year and a half before would enter into the summer slaughter.”
7 examples of “year-and-a-half”
“By 1977, a number of the year-and-a-half bucks were four pointers or better. The club was reaching the goal of having quality bucks in every age class.”
“Eduard Shevardnadze brings back professionals to politics – to replace Gamsakhurdia’s friends and relatives who managed to occupy all ministerial posts during his year – and – a–half rule.
“To adopt such a dent and by other a year-and-a-half rule would mean that every motor vehicle- after an accident was not unreasonable, accident claimant, to protect him- but, in any event, insurer’s disclaimers self, would have to file a claim.”
“For some reason neither military nor diplomats want to see the results of the year – and – a – half rule of the regime.”
“During the year – and – a – half rule of Isabel Perón the country experienced severe floods.”
“A year – and – a – half contract between ACTWU and the cotton industry garment group provided a 35 cent or 5.5 per cent rise over the period ending in August 1991.
“You will all be employed on a year-and-a-half contract starting from tomorrow”.
Hopefully, now you have a better idea of the rules around the phrase “year and a half”. If you want to be a bit grammar pedantic, then the phrase you should be using is “one and a half years”. But if you’re a normal human being, then using “year and a half” will be fine.
Most of the time, it should be spelt without the dashes. However, when you want to treat the phrase “year and a half” like it’s a single word, you should spell it “year-and-a-half”.
When something takes a year and a half to complete, rarely does this mean it will take exactly 548 days. It will usually take somewhere between 1 and 2 years.
The phrase “year and a half” is one of those phrases that you think never gets used but actually gets said far more often than you initially realise.