Submitted by parsifal  •  August 12, 2008

rogue apostrophe

Would you write ‘four day’s journey’ or ‘four days journey’?

I am having a tussle with a sub. I know it’s ‘Long Day’s Journey into Night’ but surely the journey doesn’t belong to the four days, so it should be ‘four days journey’ - and presumably ‘a four-day journey’ would be even better?

What do you think?

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Yup:

four days' journey

Notice the position of the apostrophe.

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Definitely 'four days' journey'. if it was singular, it would be 'one day's journey'.

I guess the use of a hyphen would depend on the house style.

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Perhaps a better answer would be to say it's the genitive of measure rather than the possesive. See:

http://www.alt-usage-english.org/genitive_and_p...

or another posting from this site about "two weeks' notice":

http://www.painintheenglish.com/post.php?id=26

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Actually, instead of "four day's journey" or "four days journey", I would write "four days' journey", the plural possessive. "Four days' journey" means a "journey of four days". The possessive phrase is turned around to eliminate the "of" (yes, journey does "belong" to days) and days is plural. Of course, you can use "four-day journey" as well. It's not better per se, just different.

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Oops, missed the second half of your post. Sorry; not enough coffee this morning.

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I would do neither; how about:

"four-day journey"

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