Expressions with two nouns to talk about time, distance and other forms of measurement
Two basic patterns
Pattern 1 - used adjectivally
- It takes ten minutes to walk there
It's a ten-minute walk.
- The holiday is for two weeks
We're going for a two-week holiday
- Your hike was fifty miles
This fifty-mile hiking trip you went on, what was it like?
- It was five metres to the ground
It was a five-metre drop to the ground.
- I've lost five pounds
Have you seen my five-pound note?
- He tried to bribe me with a hunded dollars
He offered me a hundred-dollar bribe
- The lorry weighs ten tonnes
It's a ten-tonnne lorry
- The bottle holds two litres
It's a two-litre bottle
- The essay has ten pages
It's a ten-page essay
Pattern 2 - used as a possessive compound noun
When there's only one, or the expression ends in a fraction
- It's only half-an-hour's drive.
- He was given a week's wages (one week's wages).
- She's taken a week-and-a-half's break off work
- It's a mile's walk (one mile's walk) from here.
- There's half-a-metre's width between the two walls.
- It was a kilometre-and-a-half's walk to the nearest bus stop.
- They live very nearby
They only live a stone's throw away
- We only just missed it
We missed by a hair's breadth
Why do we use the possessive form?
- a week's break = a break of a week
- a mile's walk = a walk of a mile
- a stone's throw = the throw of a stone
When there's more than one
- It's five hours' drive from here.
(a drive of five hours)
- We'll be back in two weeks' time.
(a time of two weeks)
- It's five miles' walk from here.
(a walk of five miles)
- It's ten metres' drop to the ground.
(a drop of ten metres)
- It's a couple of minutes' walk from the station.
- There'll probably be a few minutes' wait before he can see us.
Expressions with money
- Can you give me a pound's worth (one pound's worth), please.
- I bought five pounds' worth of goods.
- It was a good ten dollars' worth.
A quick note on the noun worth
- The winner will receive ten pounds' worth of books.
(Oxford Advanced Learner's)
- a week's worth of supplies
- They've produced five hours' worth of videos
- The fire caused thousands of pounds' worth of damage.
- a month's worth of grocery shopping.
- She has 15 years' worth of experience in advertising.
- ten dollars' worth of natural gas
(The Free Dictionary)
- a chance to win £2000 worth of computing equipment - NOT £2000's worth
When the expression of time, measurement etc is used before an adjective
- A ten-week-old baby
The baby is ten weeks old
- A two-hundred-kilometre-long river
The river is two hundred kilometres long
- The woman is three months pregnant
She is a three-months-pregnant woman
Testing for apostrophe use
- ten minutes' drive
a drive of ten minutes - that's OK, so we use an apostrophe
- ten weeks old
old of ten weeks - that doesn't work, so no apostrophe
- ten minutes' drive
one minute's drive - that's OK, so we use an apostrophe in the plural as well
- ten weeks old
one week old - no apostrophe in the singular, so no apostrophe in the plural
|Exercise 1||Complete each sentence with one or two words. Hyphenated words count as one word. Don't use a or an. Use apostrophes and hyphens as indicated in the lesson.|
|1.||If we leave at 8 o'clock and drive to London, we'll arrive there at about 12.|
It's about three to London.
Or to put it another way, it's a drive to London.
|2.||It only takes fifteen minutes by foot.|
It's only a walk
In other words, it's only walk.
|3.||I'm going on holiday for two weeks.|
I've got holiday.
I'm going on a holiday.
|4.||It takes about an hour to walk to the forest.|
The forest is about an from here.
|5.||It takes about an hour and a half to drive there.|
It's an drive.
|6.||The trip round the islands lasted two weeks.|
It was a trip.
|7.||The building is thirty metres high.|
It's a building.
|8.||She wanted sweets worth one pound.|
She asked for a of sweets.
|9.||He had enough food for two weeks.|
He had worth of food.
|10.||The next village is three miles from here.|
It's walk from here.
|11.||It's a sixty-year-old house.|
The house is old.
|12.||It takes five minutes to swim to the island.|
It's a swim.
|Exercise 2||Complete each sentence with one or two words. Hyphenated words count as one word. Don't use a or an. Use apostrophes and hyphens as indicated in the lesson.|
|1.||She bought a bottle containing two litres of Coke.|
She bought a bottle of Coke.
|2.||I'll be back in one hour.|
I'll be back in an time.
|3.||I only slept from 1am to 5am.|
I only got sleep.
|4.||We had five courses for dinner.|
It was a dinner.
|5.||The path across the island is about five miles long.|
It's walk across the island.
|6.||It will only take me two minutes to do.|
It will only need a couple work.
|7.||It's only as far as you can metaphorically throw a stone.|
It's only a away.
|8.||The letter she sent me was five pages long.|
She sent me a letter.
|9.||We had to wait for two hours at the airport|
We had a wait at the airport.
|10.||The train goes in one hour and a half from now.|
The train goes in an time.
|11.||We only narrowly made it through the gap.|
We made it through the gap by a .
|12.||There's only another two kilometres to the go.|
Just another walking and we're home and dry.
Grammar trivia 1 - possessive and genitive
English has two ways of expressing the genitive
- -'s - which developed out of the old Anglo-Saxon genitive case ending, for which reason it is sometimes called the Saxon Genitive - this is used mainly, but not exclusively, when talking about people.
- with the preposition of , which developed from French constructions with de . This is used mainly (but not exclusively) for talking about things, places etc.
The Double Genitive
- We named the child after a friend of my father's.
- Do you really believe that story of hers?
- Any Friend of Nicholas Nickleby’s is a Friend of Mine
(the title of a story by Ray Bradbury)