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  1. #1
    markbarnard Guest

    Default Apostrophes and Time Expressions

    Please help to settle an argument. Just as "200 hours' community service" or "a moment's notice" require apostrophes to indicate possession, I believe "FIVE YEARS' VIP SERVICING" also merits one ("VIP SERVICING OF FIVE YEARS"). A copywriting colleague has got rather confused over his participles, gerunds, verbs and subjects. He fails to see the logic of testing the case by using an obvious singular-- eg, in "A YEAR'S VIP SERVICING" the "S" is clearly there to indicate possession rather than a plural. Can anyone help provide a straightforward explanation?

  2. #2
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    I think five years' VIP servicing is fine. Why? I don't know. As I type this, I haven't had my first cup of coffee yet. :)

    May I make a suggestion? I think the phrase would work better as five years of VIP servicing. What do you think?

    :)

  3. #3
    markbarnard Guest

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    Thanks. Your suggestion (which we had also discussed) would avoid the ambiguity.

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Apostrophes and Time Expressions

    Quote Originally Posted by markbarnard
    Please help to settle an argument. Just as "200 hours' community service" or "a moment's notice" require apostrophes to indicate possession, I believe "FIVE YEARS' VIP SERVICING" also merits one ("VIP SERVICING OF FIVE YEARS"). A copywriting colleague has got rather confused over his participles, gerunds, verbs and subjects. He fails to see the logic of testing the case by using an obvious singular-- eg, in "A YEAR'S VIP SERVICING" the "S" is clearly there to indicate possession rather than a plural. Can anyone help provide a straightforward explanation?
    The S is there to show possession, if the apostrophe is before, it's singular, if it comes after it's plural. If your colleague were right, then there would be no S there at all, unless they are arguing that 'a years' is good English.

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