I’ve recently noticed a growing trend of people misusing – or, to be precise, failing to use – apostrophes in expressions of time. It seems to be fairly widespread, ranging from emails and newsletter content to blog posts and social media updates.
I don’t know if it’s due to laziness, a general lack of understanding of the possessive grammar rule or an autocorrect error.
In case you’re not too sure yourself, here’s a quick recap of how to use apostrophes in expressions of time:
✓ Today’s weather is glorious.
✗ Todays weather is glorious.
✓ This week’s menu is different to last week’s.
✗ This weeks menu is different to last weeks.
✓ I’m looking forward to next month’s event.
✗ I’m looking forward to next months event.
✓ Last year’s holiday was one of our best.
✗ Last years holiday was one of our best.
Time to get possessive
As well as in contractions to show that one or more letters are missing, an apostrophe is used to indicate possession, e.g. the boy’s bicycle.
This also applies when the length of a period of time is specified, e.g.
He received one week’s notice.
I really need a few days’ holiday.
The artist exhibited two years’ work.
Freelancers often invoice on 30 days’ credit.
Of course, English being English means that not everything follows the same rule.
Just to keep you on your toes, an apostrophe is NOT required in adjectival constructions such as three months pregnant or six weeks old.
NOR is it used in the names of wars that are known by their length, e.g. Hundred Years War.
Hopefully this has helped clarify how to use apostrophes in expressions of time. If there are any other points of grammar that you’d like explaining, please let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do…
(Image courtesy of Detanan via Freedigitalphotos.net)