a few moments' rest (moments vs moments')

Trina

Senior Member
Australia (English)
Hi,

I have a query in regards to the use of the apostrophe in:

Would you like a few moments' rest before running another marathon?

Could someone confirm whether this is correct? I keep seeing "a few moments rest" (no apostrophe) written everywhere, and am now unsure.

I believe the sentence below has an apostrophe, therefore it would follow that "moments' rest" should be correct?

I can't seem to get a minute's peace / moment's peace.

Thanks,
Trina
 
  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hi,

    I have a query in regards to the use of the apostrophe in:

    Would you like a few moments' rest before running another marathon?

    Could someone confirm whether this is correct? I keep seeing "a few moments rest" (no apostrophe) written everywhere, and am now unsure.

    I believe the sentence below has an apostrophe, therefore it would follow that "moments' rest" should be correct?

    I can't seem to get a minute's peace / moment's peace.

    Thanks,
    Trina
    Hi Trina,

    I think Mplsray is right to warn you about that site, and I'd go further on the subject of the girls and Keats - I think the site is just wrong there.

    The point I'd like to make is that your final examples are correct and you are right to conclude that when the moments are plural the apostrophe should follow the s.

    The elementary rule is that when dealing with a singular we say a minute's peace or a moment's peace, but with a plural which ends in s we usually put the apostrophe after the s; thus, a few moments' peace - a peace lasting (of) a few moments.

    So it's Would you like a few moments' rest? - your original question, and Would you like a moment's peace? - your example. Where the apostrophe comes depends here, as usual, on whether we are dealing with one or more than one moment or minute.

    It may be worth adding that when you say that you keep seeing 'a few moments peace' written here and there, this is not totally surprising, particularly on the web, because many people are uncertain about the rules and leave out apostrophes, rather than put them in what may be the wrong place. Of course it's as much an error to leave them out, when they are needed, as to put them in the wrong place.
     
    Last edited:

    Cypherpunk

    Senior Member
    US, English
    Granted, not the best site, but it was the first decent one I saw that specifically mentioned moment's. I'm not a grammarian, so I had to think for a while to remember that I've heard this referred to as the Saxon Genitive, not just the possessive. It mainly addresses the use of the apostrophe to show possession. If you're curious, follow the link. It doesn't mention moment's, but it does discuss the common rules for use of the apostrophe.
     

    Trina

    Senior Member
    Australia (English)
    Belated thanks to mplsray & Thomas Tompion & Cyperpunk
    Perhaps "great link" was not the best way to describe it and could be misleading. It answered my query and for this, it was great!


    /* new and interesting question deserving its own thread moved here */
     
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