Using Apostrophes in Time Expressions (Temporal Expressions)

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Apostrophes are used in time expressions. For example:
  • 1 year's insurance
  • 2 days' leave
  • a week's pay
When it is one measure of time, the apostrophe goes before the s (e.g., one day's pay). When it is more than one measure of time, it goes after the s (e.g., two days' pay).

Apostrophes in Time Expressions (Temporal Expressions)

Apostrophes are used in time expressions (e.g., three years' experience, two days' pay, one day's time). These are also known as temporal expressions.

In a temporal expression, the apostrophe is positioned before the s for single units of time and after for multiple units of time. For example:
  • I never did a day's work in my life. It was all fun. (Thomas A. Edison)
  • (As this is one day, the apostrophe goes before the s.)
  • Alan was given two days' notice.
  • (As this is two days, the apostrophe goes after the s.)
  • That is the equivalent of one year's pay.
  • (As this is one year, the apostrophe goes before the s.)
  • My car came with three year's free insurance.
  • (As this is three years, the apostrophe should go after the s.)

These are both correct.
(newspaper clipping)


This is wrong. It should be 3 months' mobile insurance.
(newspaper clipping)


This is wrong. It should be 4 years' free credit.
(newspaper clipping)

Learn about Apostrophe Placement in Temporal Expressions

This widget is in Learning Mode.
Possessor
Possessee
Singular Getting ready... Getting ready...
Plural Getting ready...
Getting ready...
 






 

Imagine the Apostrophe Replaces Of

The following do not have any apostrophes in them:
  • I lived in Africa for 3 years.
  • She has six months left to run on her loan.
This point causes confusion among many. As a rule, you should only use an apostrophe in an expression where the word of might have been used. For example:
  • six months' insurance
  • (six months of insurance)
  • a day's leave
  • (a day of leave)
  • She has six months' left to run on her loan.
  • (She has six months of left to run on her loan.)
    (This is nonsense. It's wrong.)
  • She has six months left to run on her loan.
  • (This is correct with no apostrophe.)

It's Not Always about Time

The vast majority of these expressions are time expressions, but some relate to value and distance too:
  • 10 pounds' worth of potatoes and 1 pound's worth of onions
  • a stone's throw away


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