What is the difference between ten minute walk and ten minutes' walk, are they the same?


2 Answers 2


They mean the same, but for different reasons.

For the apostrophe version, note that you should use minute's only for one minute, and minutes' for more than one minute. Note that the apostrophe has moved in the plural. For an explanation, check out this link.

When you add the apostrophe, you make a genitive, so it means the same as ten minutes of walking: the ten minutes is a measure of a quantity of walking, ie a distance.

Without the apostrophe, it's like a compound noun, with ten minute describing walk: that's why minute is singular. You are talking about a walk with a duration of ten minutes. Ten minutes is simply a measure of time.

According to this Ngram, the genitive form used to be the only one: The non-apostrophe form came into existence around 1910, and became the most widely used in 1980.

This switch in usage is probably a result of changes in society's attitude to walking. It is no longer the normal means of getting about, but a form of exercise. You have to exercise for ten minutes, rather than to get from A to B.

  • Ten minute is an adjectival form. And ten minutes of walk would be wrong. However, you could say: ten minutes' walking, which means: ten minutes of walking.
    – Lambie
    Apr 4, 2017 at 16:45
  • @Lambie, read Giambattista's answer to the duplicate question. You will see that he correctly describes ten minute as an attributive noun, not an adjective. Likewise, ten minutes of X is also a noun usage, for example "ten minutes of thought would have saved you a lot of trouble". Using "walk" rather than "walking" sounds ungrammatical in this context but its usage is widespread.
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 4, 2017 at 17:46
  • @Lambie, the usage of walk rather than walking is equivalent to the usage of sleep rather than sleeping. "I barely got ten minutes' sleep last night" cf. "the sea is ten minutes' walk from my house". See definition 1.1 in the nouns section of this: en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/walk.
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 4, 2017 at 19:56
  • A@JavaLatte I don't use the term attribute noun. I prefer adjectival use of a noun. Why can't one say: ten minutes' walk? Because if you spell out the genitive, you get: ten minutes of walk. Obviously agrammatical. Whereas: with ten minutes' walking, if you do the same thing, you get: ten minutes of walking. And that's OK. The sea is a ten minute walk from my house. The sea is ten minutes' walking from my house. I disagree the dictionary. It is not logical.
    – Lambie
    Apr 6, 2017 at 0:24
  • @Lambie, who told you that language was logical? Anyway, whether you like it or not, sleep and sleeping are both nouns, and walk and walking are both nouns.
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 6, 2017 at 5:50

The meaning is practically the same but the grammar is not.
You can use this in a couple of ways:

ten-minute walk
ten-minute-long walk
ten minutes' walk
ten minutes of walk
walk of ten minutes

Notice the hyphens in the first two cases. Words like those are called compound adjectives. It's like saying "short walk" but you specify it as "ten-minute" or "ten-minute-long".
The other three are possessive, and even though the possessor and the possessed switch places in case four and five, they still mean the same thing: a walk that lasted for ten minutes.

It should be noted that you use the last form also when you talk about some experience, something with importance, e.g.

a walk of the year
a run of the century
a journey of a lifetime

but in these cases the meaning does differ, the time is not the duration, it's usually a time frame in which something happened. It's like saying "the best walk this year", "the best run of this century" and "the best journey of your life".

  • Can you use lenth instead of long, as in a three-quarter length coat?
    – GJC
    Dec 12, 2020 at 20:59

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