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    #1

    Specific use of apostrophe with the word 'ago'

    Am I using the apostrophe correctly in the following phrases ?

    10 years' ago.

    A couple of days' ago.

    Thank you.

    Stephen Morse

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Specific use of apostrophe with the word 'ago'

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Morse View Post
    Am I using the apostrophe correctly in the following phrases?

    10 years' ago.

    A couple of days' ago.

    Thank you. Unnecessary. Thank us after we help you, by clicking on the "Thank" button.

    Stephen Morse Unnecessary. We can see your username.
    Welcome to the forum.

    No. The apostrophe there is incorrect. It is required in things like:

    It is two minutes' walk.
    I have ten years' worth of newspapers in my attic.

    Note my corrections and comments above, in the quote box. Don't put a space before a closing punctuation mark.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #3

    Re: Specific use of apostrophe with the word 'ago'

    No, it's incorrect. "Ago" is a preposition, not a noun, so the noun phrase "10 years" cannot function as its genitive (possessive) determiner as it would in, say, "10 years' work".

    Note that "ago" is an unusual preposition in that it invariably follows its complement, in this case "10 years", rather than precedes it, as is normally the case with prepositions.

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    #4

    Re: Specific use of apostrophe with the word 'ago'

    NOT A TEACHER

    Hello, Mr. Morse:

    1. I did some research and discovered that there are different opinions about the classification of the word "ago."

    2. The website Dictionary.com feels that it is an adjective that means "gone" or "gone by" or "past," as in "five days ago." It feels that the word is an adverb that means "in the past," as in "All this happened long ago."

    3. Here is what the famous grammarian Otto Jespersen wrote: "We must specially mention ago, as in " He came back a few minutes ago." Dr. Jespersen says that "ago" is "a participle of an obsolete verb ago = 'go'; the old form was agone." Jespersen, Essentials of English Grammar (1933), page 314.

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    #5

    Re: Specific use of apostrophe with the word 'ago'

    Quote Originally Posted by PaulMatthews View Post
    No, it's incorrect. "Ago" is a preposition,
    It is a preposition according to some grammarians. Some still consider it an adverb.
    Typoman - writer of rongs

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    #6

    Re: Specific use of apostrophe with the word 'ago'

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    It is a preposition according to some grammarians. Some still consider it an adverb.
    Well, it can't be an adverb when coupled to a noun phrase, in a phrase such as five years ago. Can it?

    It does make sense to me as an adverb in long ago, however.

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    #7

    Re: Specific use of apostrophe with the word 'ago'

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Well, it can't be an adverb when coupled to a noun phrase, in a phrase such as five years ago. Can it?
    There are many discussions on this on the internet. I have not yet been able to find a convincing explanation of the word.


    Some grammarians today would have 'before' in 'ten years before' as a preposition. There are arguments for that, though that would presumably mean that 'earlier' in 'ten years earlier' would also be classed as a preposition.

    In any case, 'ago' does not mean 'before'; it means 'before the present time'. One cop-out could be to think of 'ago' as one of the very rare (obligatorily piedpiping) postpositions in English. 'Hence' seems to be another.
    Last edited by probus; 01-Oct-2019 at 13:22. Reason: Fix typo
    Typoman - writer of rongs

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    #8

    Re: Specific use of apostrophe with the word 'ago'

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    It is a preposition according to some grammarians. Some still consider it an adverb.
    Yes, some do, but consider this pair:

    [1] I recall his behaviour ten days ago.

    [2] That was ten days ago.

    In [1] the ago phrase modifies the noun "behaviour", and in [2] it is predicative complement of the verb "was".

    These functions are characteristic of preposition phrases, not adverb phrases.

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    #9

    Re: Specific use of apostrophe with the word 'ago'

    Thread moved, as the question was answered in posts 2 and 3 and the OP appears to have lost interest – with nary a single 'Thank' or 'Like'.

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    #10

    Re: Specific use of apostrophe with the word 'ago'

    Quote Originally Posted by PaulMatthews View Post
    These functions are characteristic of preposition phrases, not adverb phrases.
    Would you then say that 'earlier' was a preposition in I saw him ten days earlier?
    Typoman - writer of rongs

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