Whose experience is it anyways??????

Subject: Whose experience is it anyways??????
From: Susan Brown <sbrown -at- JSCSYS -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 1997 00:55:42 -0500

At 11:57 AM 2/26/97 -0800, you wrote:
>Kevin Montgomery asked about
>
>two years experience
>vs.
>two years' experience
>
>Has to be two years' (with apostrophe), since this expression is the
>equivalent of "experience of two years" and is therefore possessive.
>

I beg to differ. Your whole sentence would be 'my experience of two
years'.


In this case 'two years (of) experience' is being used as in 'two
pounds (of) butter'. The pounds don't own the butter. Of is being used in
it's quantitive sense.

Another way of interpreting the abbreviated phrase is to include a
missing word that we have taken as given for so long that many of us forget
that good English used to require it be there. (two years worth of
experience) This is probably what Chicago is assuming. The years own the
worth, not the experience.

Note: My copy of the complete OED has 6 pages on the word 'of' -
only 15 or so lines of that refer to it use as indicative of possession.
Susan Brown
JSC Systems

"Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you
come to the end: then stop."
- Lewis Carroll

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