Q:"age" 這個字的用法是否有一定的規則,如 children age 6-10, children aged 6-10, children 6-10 或 children 6-10 years of age,何者正確呢?

A:在指某人的特定年齡時,aged 是個常用的字,它是形容詞,意為「(某人) … 歲的」,如 A woman aged 50 has given birth to twins. (一名 50 歲婦女產下了一對雙胞胎);They’ve got two children, aged 3 and 7. (他們有兩個孩子,一個 3 歲,一個 7 歲)。從上面的例句可知,視年齡資料對該人物是否必要而定,aged 前面的逗點可有可無。

然而,除 aged 外,在表示「(某人) … 歲的」意思時,也可使用當名詞用的 age (單數) 或 ages (複數),亦即 aged 可用 age 或 ages 來替換,如 A woman age 50 has given birth to twins.;They’ve got two children, ages 3 and 7.;Men ages between 18 and 35 are most at risk from violent crime. (18 至 35 歲之間的男性最容易遭遇暴力犯罪的危險)。同樣地,age 或 ages 前面的逗點可有可無。此外,我們亦可使用片語 ” years of age” (注意:這裡的 age 不可用複數且其前沒有冠詞) 來表達相同的意思,如 Men between 18 and 35 years of age are most at risk from violent crime. 或 Men from 18 to 35 years of age are most at risk from violent crime.。

至於「在 (某人) … 歲時」的意思則用 “at age/ages” 或 “at the age/ages of” 來表達,如 He died at age 80. (他 80 歲逝世);She entered Parliament at the age of 26. (她 26 歲時成為國會議員);The aim of this study was to explore how prenatal drug exposure (PDE) and caregiving environment relate to cognitive, academic, and behavioral performance at ages 6 and 7. (本研究的目的在探討產前藥物使用情況及照護環境與 6 歲和 7 歲時認知、學術和行為表現的關係)。The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage 一書指出,at age/ages 是美式英語的用法,而 at the age/ages of 是英式英語的用法,但從實際的應用情況來看,這項區分似乎矯枉過正了,不必當真。再者,在 at age/ages 或 at the age/ages of 中,視所要表達的意思而定,at 可換成其他介系詞,如 By age 6, a child is able to cut softer foods with a knife and is able to tie his or her own shoes. (小孩子到了 6 歲就能用刀子切比較柔軟的食物且能自己繫鞋帶);Men between the ages of 18 and 35 are most at risk from violent crime.。

最後,值得一提的是,aged 當形容詞用時,除了「(某人) … 歲的」意思外,還意為「年老的」,如 an aged man (老翁);He helped take care of his aged grandfather. (他幫助照料年邁的祖父)。必須注意的是,意為「(某人) … 歲的」aged 為單音節 [edʒd],而意為「年老的」aged 為兩個音節 [‘edʒɪd]。此外,aged 亦是當動詞用的 age 的過去式和過去分詞,這個字也是單音節,意為「(使) 變老」,如 After his illness he aged quickly. (他病後老得很快);Since her husband’s death, she has aged considerably. (自從她丈夫去世後,她老了很多)。