a 20 minute walk = 20 minutes' walk

< Previous | Next >

jimmyy

Senior Member
Romanian
Hi,

I would like to confirm with you if those two variants of each sentece are correct:

1 a) It is a 20 minute walk from my house to the office.
b) It is 20 minutes' walk from my house to the office.

2 a) I've got a 14 day holiday.
b) I've got 14 days' holiday.

3) a) Last night I only had a one hour sleep.
b) Last night I only had one hour's sleep.

Basically my question is :
a 20 minute walk = 20 minutes' walk?


Thank you,
Jimmyy
 
  • cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    If you Google "A 20- minute walk" you'll find that the inclusion of a hyphen is preferred: A 20-minute walk. Thus a 20-minute walk = 20 minutes' walk.
     
    You should definitely go for the former. Also, sometimes you'll notice such constructions are hyphenated, and I believe it's a better wording. Actually, when you don't write a number, but a word, you should hyphenate it:

    one-hour sleep
    20-minute walk
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    Hi,

    I would like to confirm with you if those two variants of each sentece are correct:

    1 a) It is a 20 minute walk from my house to the office.
    b) It is 20 minutes' walk from my house to the office.

    2 a) I've got a 14 day holiday.
    b) I've got 14 days' holiday.

    3) a) Last night I only had a one hour sleep.
    b) Last night I only had one hour's sleep.

    Basically my question is :
    a 20 minute walk = 20 minutes' walk?


    Thank you,
    Jimmyy
    Even after agreeing with cyberpedant's inclusion of the hyphen, I still find 3a) a little strange.
     

    simnamedmark

    New Member
    English - American
    For 1 and 3, both A and B work. (B sounding more official)

    Technically 2 B works, but I personally don't hear people say it that way.

    :)
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Maybe, "I had only one hour of sleep".

    To my ear, in this case 's does not comfortably replace "of".
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    Strange as it may be, still, it remains a well-formed grammatical construction. If I were to say it, I'd say, 'I slept only one hour last night.'
    I don't question the grammatical structure, just that it didn't sound very natural. I would probably say the same as you.:)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    As discussed only two days ago:
    two-week /two-weeks’ holiday

    A twenty-minute walk is a walk of twenty minutes.
    Of signifies genitive.
    It is therefore twenty minutes' walk.

    Whether you use a hypen for a twenty-minute walk depends on style guides, geography, or personal preference. Either will do.
     

    simnamedmark

    New Member
    English - American
    For 3 I would say:

    "Last night I only had an hour of sleep"
    or
    "Last night I only slept for an hour."
     
    Last edited:

    jimmyy

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Thank you,

    I admit that I find soome of the constructions theoretical, but I was interested in the principle and in the gramatical corectness.
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Yes, Loob. I saw now I was mistaken. It doesn't follow the normal pattern, where the possessive functions as an adjective:

    a two days' journey
    a four months' period

    Is it something you use only with "I have ............'s holiday"?

    I mean, normally it will be "a...............'s X".
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    I think my problem with this sentence was not clear.

    Do you consider normal/correct to say?

    I've got a 14 days' holiday.


    I thought that's the way it should be according to grammar, but in a grammar book I found an example exactly like the one in this thread (without a), and Loob also told me it is a normal phrase. Now I would like to know what you think of the other option (with a).

    And, please, could you tell me how to fill the gap in the following example?:

    My best holiday ever was ____________________ in Jamaica. (two weeks/holiday)
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    I think my problem with this sentence was not clear.

    Do you consider normal/correct to say?

    I've got a 14 days' holiday.

    No I don't.

    I thought that's the way it should be according to grammar, but in a grammar book I found an example exactly like the one in this thread (without a), and Loob also told me it is a normal phrase. Now I would like to know what you think of the other option (with a).

    And, please, could you tell me how to fill the gap in the following example?:

    My best holiday ever was two weeks in Jamaica. (two weeks/holiday)
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Thank you, Porteño. I guess the reason is that "holiday" there is uncountable, and I had never noticed that. I was still hoping it could be normal with "a" :(

    The second sentence is not the one I was looking for (two weeks/holiday), but I understand you gave me the answer you find more common...
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    Thank you, Porteño. I guess the reason is that "holiday" there is uncountable, and I had never noticed that. I was still hoping it could be normal with "a" :(

    The second sentence is not the one I was looking for (two weeks/holiday), but I understand you gave me the answer you find more common...
    Actually, I would probably have said something like:
    My best holiday ever was two weeks I spent in Jamaica in 2008.:)
     

    pepperfire

    Senior Member
    Canada - English & French
    Maybe, "I had only one hour of sleep".

    To my ear, in this case 's does not comfortably replace "of".
    I agree, and verbally, one would say I only had an hour's sleep... then it sounds comfortable, I think.
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    The best time of my life was a two weeks' holiday in Jamaica.


    What about that one?


    I guess the original sentence (I've got 14 days' holiday.) is only associated to "rest from work", right?
     

    El escoces

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Yes, Loob. I saw now I was mistaken. It doesn't follow the normal pattern, where the possessive functions as an adjective:

    a two days' journey
    a four months' period
    You realise, Ynez, that these two statements are incorrect? It's not clear from the original post whether you are putting them forward as correct examples, or as examples of errors.

    They should be:

    a two day journey
    a four month period

    No "'s" in either case (and hyphens optional, in my view")
     

    pepperfire

    Senior Member
    Canada - English & French
    The best time of my life was a two weeks' holiday in Jamaica.


    What about that one?


    I guess the original sentence (I've got 14 days' holiday.) is only associated to "rest from work", right?
    -- or school.


    It works, in both cases. I believe it was the redundant use of the word holiday that the posters were balking over.
     

    pepperfire

    Senior Member
    Canada - English & French
    You realise, Ynez, that these two statements are incorrect? It's not clear from the original post whether you are putting them forward as correct examples, or as examples of errors.

    They should be:

    a two day journey
    a four month period

    No "'s" in either case (and hyphens optional, in my view")

    I believe that grammatically both are correct.

    The apostrophe s replaces the word "of"

    But, for what it's worth, I would eliminate the 's in "a four month period" or write it in full as a period of four months.
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    You realise, Ynez, that these two statements are incorrect? It's not clear from the original post whether you are putting them forward as correct examples, or as examples of errors.

    They should be:

    a two day journey
    a four month period

    No "'s" in either case (and hyphens optional, in my view")

    I know my post was too confusing, El escoces :(

    They are correct, but from your words I understand they are not commonly used and it's better to say:

    a two-day journey
    a four-month period



    Yes, pepperfire, thank you. :)
     

    El escoces

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    They are correct, but from your words I understand they are not commonly used and it's better to say:

    a two-day journey
    a four-month period
    Well guys, that's not what I'm saying. Maybe there's a difference between BE and AE here, but in my view a two days' journey is not correct. The 's mechanism replaces of in relation to possessives, but the journey does not "belong" to the two days - the use of that form here is inappropriate.
     
    Last edited:

    pepperfire

    Senior Member
    Canada - English & French
    I'm under the impression that in BrE "holiday" may mean what AmE would call "vacation time" or "paid days off from work". This is the sense I give holiday in "I have 14 days' holiday". Here, (I think) "14 days' holiday" refers to a quantity - the amount of paid vacation to which you were entitled. Thus, both the meaning of holiday and the construction are different from that of the other sentences. Am I mistaken?
    In CaE, we can use holiday or vacation interchangeably and "time" can be added or left off depending on the usage.

    in effect, it is just as grammatically correct to say:

    I have 10 day's holiday
    as
    I have 10 day's vacation
    as
    I had a 10 day's holiday in Jamaica
    as
    I had a 10 day's vacation in Jamaica

    I changed the number of days in the vacation because in CaE, we'd say two weeks, not 14 days. :)
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    El escoces, if you think about it for a while, you'll find many examples of time expressions using the possessive.

    The newspaper of yesterday, for example...how would you say that?

    But I have understood my examples in particular are not commonly used that way.
     

    liliput

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    Hi,

    I would like to confirm with you if those two variants of each sentece are correct:

    1 a) It is a 20 minute walk from my house to the office.
    b) It is 20 minutes' walk from my house to the office.

    2 a) I've got a 14 day holiday.
    b) I've got 14 days' holiday.

    3) a) Last night I only had a one hour sleep.
    b) Last night I only had one hour's sleep.

    Basically my question is :
    a 20 minute walk = 20 minutes' walk?


    Thank you,
    Jimmyy
    The only one that doesn't seem idiomatic is 3a.
    I would say "I only had an hour of sleep"

    As Pepperfire says, 14 days would more usually be "2 weeks" or "a fortnight".
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Well guys, that's not what I'm saying. Maybe there's a difference between BE and AE here, but in my view a two days' journey is not correct. The 's mechanism replaces of in relation to possessives, but the journey does not "belong" to the two days - the use of that form here is inappropriate.
    I agree with Ynez that the apostrophe is correct. Here is an earlier thread on the subject: in two weeks/ weeks' or week's time? See especially post #14, in which Panjandrum links to online references on the subject. BrE and AmE agree.
     

    El escoces

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    I think everyone is talking about different things.

    Yesterday's newspaper is fine - the newspaper belongs to, or is identified with, yesterday.

    In two weeks' time is correct.

    Fourteen days' holiday is correct.

    But I maintain that a fourteen days' holiday, and a four months' period, are wrong.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I think everyone is talking about different things.

    But I maintain that a fourteen days' holiday, and a four months' period, are wrong.
    Sorry, I missed that.

    It seems to me that you are right. They violate the general rule that an article is not used with a possessive.
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Cagey, don't get confused :)

    Anyhow, this discussion is very interesting. I am learning a lot from it. But my particular examples are not exactly the ones El escoces is giving now. They were:

    a two days' journey
    a four months' period
     
    Last edited:

    liliput

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    El escoses is right. The problem is with the use of the article - it's not idiomatic, at least not in BE, to say "I had a two weeks' holiday" We say "I had two weeks' holiday" or "I had a two-week holiday".
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top