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  1. #1
    Stephen Morse is offline Newbie
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    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. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    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.

  3. #3
    PaulMatthews is offline Senior Member
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    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.

  4. #4
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    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.

  5. #5
    jutfrank's Avatar
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    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.

  6. #6
    PaulMatthews is offline Senior Member
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    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.

  7. #7
    Rover_KE is online now Moderator
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    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'.

  8. #8
    jutfrank's Avatar
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    Re: Specific use of apostrophe with the word 'ago'

    As usual, I'd prefer to think about the semantics rather than the grammar. Simply put, prepositions are ways of expressing different kinds of relations between 'things', whatever those things may be.

    Both in and ago can express a temporal relation between the present moment and a point in future and past time respectively.

    in ten minutes
    ten minutes ago

    I can't see how it is possible to understand ago as an adverb in such a simple phrase as above since there is neither a verb nor an adjective to pair it to.

  9. #9
    jutfrank's Avatar
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    Re: Specific use of apostrophe with the word 'ago'

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    So 'earlier' is a preposition in 'ten years earlier'?
    If you're asking me about how I personally see things, in terms of meaning, I think it's kind of similar, yes.

    If you're asking about what part of speech it would traditionally be labelled, in terms of form, of course I would have to agree it's an adjective.

  10. #10
    jlinger is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Specific use of apostrophe with the word 'ago'

    Not a teacher

    Adverb/Preposition/Whatever.

    This thread makes me question if an apostrophe could be appropriate in "In ten years' time, I will be..." [which I believe is correct] and if so, then it would be all right to write, "That was ten years' time ago" and therefore, to abbreviate it as "That was ten years' ago," which at first glance I thought was incorrect.
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 10-Oct-2019 at 07:48. Reason: adding 'Not a teacher'

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