in 5 minutes/hours time.

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jeune linguiste

Senior Member
Hello everyone,


I'd like to know why there is an S in Minutes or Hours in the following expressions: in 5 minutes time / in 3 hours time, for example. As far as I know, the 5 minutes and the 3 hours are considered as an adjective in the circumstances. It's like when we say: a 5-year-old boy instead of a 5 years-old boy; an 8 foot-tall kid instead of an 8 feet-tall kid, etc.

I've kind of seen and heard these expressions on several occasions, which is crumpling me a bit since I don't figure out the ultimate rule.

Thanks for your clarification.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Good point. The answer is to be found by looking at what we say with the numeral 1: in one minute's time, in one hour's time. We pronounce the S there, so that shows it is a genitive ending, not a plural ending, and the five-year-old analogy doesn't apply. For this reason also, the plural forms are better written as genitive plurals: in five minutes' time, in two hours' time.
     
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