I was requested to write that [A/the clinic(s) that open(s) out of regular official hours of a hospital] as a noun phrase, supposedly a concise and natural-sounding one.

There are several issues for me to come up with the noun phrase.

Singular vs. plural: This is a clinic (or clinics?) run by a hospital (let's say the hospital's name is Springfield). I'm not sure if I should think of the clinic as a singular or plural noun. Physically, there are several such clinics located all over the hospital. However, I think it's possible to think of all of them collectively as a clinic.

Out of regular official hours sounds somewhat awkward to me. I thought of a few alternatives such as non-standard hours or non-regular hours, but I'm afraid that the terms might be non-standard, and they might not convey the intended meaning precisely.

The use of apostrophe s: Supposed that I could come up with such a noun phrase (I currently use An out-of-regular-official-hours clinic), can I use the [X's Y] pattern? Or it has to be [Y of X]?

For example,

  • N1: Springfield's Out-of-Regular-Official-Hours Clinic
  • N2: A Springfield's Out-of-Regular-Official-Hours Clinic
  • N3: The Springfield's Out-of-Regular-Official-Hours Clinic

I think N1 might work, but both N2 and N3 are risky. The genitive case (Springfield's) seems not to get along with the articles (a/the) quite well.

How should I phrase it (the noun phrase)?

  • After-hours clinic of Springfield would work in certain contexts, but that does imply that it's open only outside normal business hours. (That isn't an answer, although it could be worked into part of one.) N2 is definitely a bad option since you imply that there is only one non-standard-hours clinic currently. What context is this phrase to be used in? As an example of why this is important, if it's for official publications relating to the clinic, that would be very different from how the receptionist answers the phone. Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 12:59

2 Answers 2


Let's take the easy part first.

What you're talking about is a clinic belonging to Springfield Hospital, and so you properly use the possessive form (in English you don't normally call it the "genitive" as you would in more highly inflected language). Let's simplify the phrase by using a simpler possessive: "my." This gives you:

My clinic

You are correct that an English speaker would never say "A my clinic" or "The my clinic," so you can't use those articles with "Springfield's" either. You might be able to use an article with "Springfield" if you use it as a location, rather than a possessive:

The Sixth Street Clinic

The Bellevue Hospital Clinic

The Fourth Floor Clinic

In this case, however, you need to drop the 's. You would not use "a" on its own, although you could use it after another name to indicate that it was one of many clinics:

The Wonderful World of Gastroenterology, a Bellevue Hospital Clinic

Now, on to the adjective:

You should not use the phrase "out-of-regular-official-hours." It sounds extremely awkward in English. First of all, the phrase "official hours" in itself is not particularly idiomatic. You would be more likely to hear something along the line of "business hours" or "office hours."

In this case, however, your best bet is to just drop the "official," since "official" and "regular" play basically the same role in this sentence. A hospital's regular hours will be understood by an English speaker as the hours in which it is normally open. "Official" adds nothing.

In fact, in this case, you don't even need "regular." After hours is a well-understood idiom that means "outside of normal business hours." If you call this:

The Springfield Hospital After-Hours Clinic

an English speaker will understand that it is a clinic, it is associated with the hospital, and that it is open later than the hospital as a whole. Even a 24-hour clinic, which is also open before the hospital in the morning, I would expect to be described as "after hours."

As for whether it should be singular or plural...that is not a grammatical decision. If it operates as one clinic, even if it is in separate locations, then it's singular; if it doesn't, it's plural.

  • That's an excellent point about 24-hours equating to after-hours. So also is the fact that singular vs plural is simple. (In this case, one would probably be best off contacting the hospital's media relations department for advice. Unless, of course, Damkerng happens to be media relations.) And, of course, +1 for "wonderful world of gastroenterology". Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 13:14
  • 2
    I'd add that "After-Hours" should not be capitalized unless it is part of the official name of the clinic.
    – Jay
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 13:29
  • @JonathanGarber I'm not part of the media relations, but the staff consulted me because they noticed an increasing trend of non-local patients, and think it's a good idea to add English version to their signs, as well as their brochures. Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 14:13
  • It sounds like a good idea on their part. You should confirm with them whether they regard the clinic as one unified whole or a set of individual operations. (I don't have a clue about local languages in Bangkok, so I wouldn't know how much of a difference that distinction would make in the non-English versions of the signs.) Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 14:16
  • Our local language is Thai. In our language, we usually use a noun without having to be explicit about its countability, and we also do not have articles. And, thank you for the suggestion--I will check with them again soon. The way I currently understand, each clinic runs independently but all clinics operate under the same umbrella of the hospital (quite similar to a company's departments, I think), which is why I think I can think of them either separately or collectively. Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 14:33

While 'After Hours' works, there is a slight implication (possibly untrue) that the clinic is only open after the main part of the hospital closes. If this is the case, 'After Hours' is great.

'Extended Hours'is a common phrase for when a business is open later or earlier than it normally is, or later than one might expect. So if the hospital closes early in the evening, and the clinic is open longer, the clinic has extended hours. So 'Extended Hours Clinic' is a good phrase, and is common in the US for many types of businesses. This phrase is better if the clinic is open at the same time as the hospital, but also stays open later.

Or you could specifically reference the time the clinic is open in the phrase. 'All-night clinic', or 'Late-night Clinic', or 'Evening Clinic', depending on the time it closes.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .