In _____ time, criteria for enrolling into university are going to be quite different.

a) two year's

b) two-year

c) two years'

When it comes to me I'd pick b) or c), but the source of mine tells that a) is correct.

I want to know who is wrong and who is right here!

  • 1
    Your final version is correct (the possessive attaches to plural two years, which ends with the letter s, so we don't add another after the apostrophe). See this usage chart comparing in two days time, in two day's time, in two days' time. Jan 29, 2020 at 16:42
  • 1
    (...where no-one would ever have hyphenated in two-day time - with or without an apostrophe or plural days.) Jan 29, 2020 at 16:45
  • The construction is different enough from the potentially duplicate question that the answers do not answer this question.
    – CJ Dennis
    Feb 2, 2020 at 22:59
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica You link doesn't work on my end. "Ngrams not found: in two day 's time, [in two day 's time], in two days ' time, [in two days ' time] The Ngram Viewer is case sensitive. Check your capitalization!"
    – Eddie Kal
    Feb 2, 2020 at 23:13
  • 1
    @EddieKal: Not sure what happened there. I find it hard to believe I'd have posted a link if it hadn't generated an actual chart, but I can't remember exactly how this one came about. Maybe I cut&pasted the actual "search strings" text into a new NGrams window, but forgot to tick the "Case Insensitive" checkbox. I sometimes do that with Google Books searches, because the content of the address bar for those can include irrelevant text from previous searches (which I don't think happens with NGrams, but force of habit might have led me to do that anyway). Feb 3, 2020 at 12:55

2 Answers 2


In two years, criteria for enrolling into university are going to be quite different.

This is still idiomatic without "time".

"Rule": To add "time", place [apostrophe "s"] after the noun phrase. If the noun phrase is plural and already ends in "s", only place [apostrophe] after it. (Rules for singular words ending in "s" are too complicated to go into here.)

two years > two years' time

In two years' time, criteria for enrolling into university are going to be quite different.

The linked question asks how to insert "day or two" into the following sentence:

I'll be there in a _____ time.

Again, we can start without "time":

I'll be there in a day or two.

Following the above "rule" we get:

I'll be there in a day or two's time.

  • 1
    @AlexRaw "In two-year time" sounds very unidiomatic to me. I'd need to see a reference that unambiguously states that for me to accept it. An answer key saying "(b) & (c)" could be a simple typo.
    – CJ Dennis
    Feb 3, 2020 at 13:26

Only (c) is correct. In possessive expressions of time, an apostrophe goes before the s for one unit of time: one day's pay, one year's time, one month's work. If more than one measure of time is expressed, it goes after the s: two days' pay, two years' time. two months' work.

Using Apostrophes in Time Expressions

  • 1
    b) is the only one that doesn't have an apostrophe at all!
    – CJ Dennis
    Feb 2, 2020 at 23:01
  • 2
    I think you meant "only (c) is correct". I took the liberty of correcting it. Hope you don't mind.
    – Eddie Kal
    Feb 2, 2020 at 23:15

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