I have occasion to write a description of someone 64 inches tall, in American English (and, yes, I’m very aware of what Professor Henry Higgins said about that particular oxymoron, and, no, I can’t do the obvious and do it in centimeters, because of the context). I don’t seem to have a stylebook answer. It could be “five feet four”, “five foot four”, “five feet-four”, “five feet four inches”, or any of several other variations. It should be a relaxed but not slangy l970’s-80’s idiom used by people who are literate but not pedantic, with reference to a young female that is “cute” but not beautiful. I don’t seem to have a stylebook that answers this. (And I’m serious. This is not a troll. It really does matter.) Thanks in advance and sorry if I have asked an absurdly simple question. But this is the sort of thing that can bring me to a grinding halt. So . . . Help!
how about … “she was as tall as a 64 inch tree”
seriously, i’d use “five foot four”
but then, i’m english.
Here are the lyrics from
DOWN UNDER by MEN AT WORK:
Buying bread from a man in Brussels
He was six foot four and full of muscles
I said, “Do you speak-a my language?”
He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich.
So just as pjd said,
but then, men at work are australian
American copyeditor here: “five foot four” is fine.
As far as I remember from the 1980s, most people would use 5-4 in conversation, the feet/inches being implied.
Consider using the foot and inch marks (she stood 5’4"), which leaves the pronounciation up to each individual reader.
If that’s impractical, then I’d recommend “five foot four,” given the relaxed style you mention.
In casual speech, the word “foot” is rarely included in heights. “She’s five four.” would be the near universal casual American usage.
This is true for males as well: “He’s six two.”
She’s 4 foot 16 inches, of course.
Lyrics by Sam Lewis and Joe Young
Music by Ray Henderson
I would disagree with this. In my experience, “five foot four” is commonly used as well.
Personally, I would tend to use just the numbers if I was merely being descriptive:
“My brother is about five ten.”
If I wanted to emphasize height as a characteristic, I would include “foot”:
“That basketball player must be seven foot six!”
But either is correct and both are common.
[opinion in GQ]
Purely opinion, but if I were reading this as part of casual dialogue, I think “five foot four” would be much clearer–“five four” in context, during verbal communication is perfectly understood, but it would give me pause in reading. I guess it depends on the context, ie:
“How tall is she”
Would be understood, but:
“She was a blonde haired, blue eyed, five four cheerleader” would confuse me, and it just doesn’t sound right. I would probably have to go back and read the line again, and wonder for a moment if it’s some sort of language code or something I didn’t understand, particularly if it’s dialogue set in another country or something that would make me think there are nuances to the language I migh miss. If it’s clearly a reference to height though, it would be okay.
However, I don’t think you could go wrong with “five foot four”–it’s casual sounding and very commonly used.
“How tall is she?”
“Five foot four”
is as easily understood as:
“She was a blonde haired, blue eyed, five foot four cheerleader” Dig?
[/opinion in GQ]