President Donald Trump’s political adviser Roger Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison on charges of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering. Federal prosecutors had recommended up to nine years’ imprisonment, only to have appointed officials step in and recommend a lighter sentence. Mr Trump had tweeted his fury about the process, prompting complaint from his attorney-general.

Is it wrong?

  • It's unclear what you're asking here. Could you be a bit more specific? If you mean is the sentence grammatically incorrect, the answer is "no". "nine years' imprisonment" is correct grammar. – Foogod Feb 21 '20 at 23:02
  • oh, I was told it shouldn't be possessive as the years don't own the imprionment – wtdark Feb 21 '20 at 23:14

The term "nine years' imprisonment" is not actually expressing possession. This is a common idiom in English where a phrase of the form "A of B" can be rewritten instead to be "B's A", even when the sense of "of" in this context isn't actually possessive, so:

up to nine years' imprisonment

is the same as saying

imprisonment of up to nine years

Note that, actually, without the apostrophe, this is actually not grammatically correct:

up to nine years imprisonment (wrong)

because "up to nine years" is a noun, and "imprisonment" is also a noun, and you can't have one noun following right after another noun without something in between. The use of the apostrophe actually turns "up to nine years'" into an adjective phrase, which can then modify the noun "imprisonment".

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