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I'm reading an wikipedia article:

(...) was sentenced to five years' probation and one year in the House of Correction (...)

Why five years' has an apostrophe? What does that sentence mean?

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The English genitive (-'s for singular nouns, -' used on plural nouns; more commonly known as the possessive) can be used in some expressions of time to associate something with the length of time.

Hundred Years' War
one week's notice
a good night's sleep
a hard day's work

In your case, the genitive is denoting that the probation was five years in duration, with a similar construction to "Hundred Years' War" and "Seven Years' War" (those are actual names of wars). "One week's notice" is notice given during the week before something happens.

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