Years in Toronto

Subject: Years in Toronto
From: rose -at- ITLS -dot- COM
Date: Wed, 5 Mar 1997 12:53:03 -0500

Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper published a style book in 1996,
which included the following in an entry called "possessives":

"Expressions that sound possessive but do not involve true possession
are treated as merely descriptive, with no apostrophe (first ministers
conference). These include common expressions involving lengths of
time (two weeks vacation, five years imprisonment); however, idiom
requires an apostrophe for the singular (a week's vacation). Other
expressions considered descriptive are those that, if rewritten as
phrases, would take the prepositions 'for' or 'by' rather than 'of' -
a hitchhikers guide, a teachers college, citizens band. (By
convention, we use apostrophes for such historical events as the Seven
Years' War.)"

Well, now I know why the apostrophe in "two years' experience" looks
so odd to me: I read the Globe every day on the way to work!

- Maurice Rose

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