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I would like to know what is the difference between the sentences:

She has got three weeks' holiday.

and

She has got a three-week holiday.

When should I use a noun+noun form (a three-week vacation) or the -s' form (three weeks vacation)?

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  • "Has" and "got" sound a bit redundant. If you mean that she currently has three weeks of holiday, you can remove "got". If you mean she got three weeks of holiday (as in recently acquired) you can remove "has". The only time I can think of where it is necessary to have both is if you used the contraction "She's" for "She has" in which case you need the "got" to avoid it sounding like "She is".
    – mjjf
    Mar 5, 2021 at 2:18
  • @mjjf "She's got" and "She has" are the same thing. There's nothing redundant about She's got. These are present tense forms of have with one meaning.
    – Lambie
    Dec 18, 2021 at 21:54
  • @lambie you misunderstood my comment. Having both "has" and "got" in the same sentence, i.e. "She has got" is redundant. I was saying choose one.
    – mjjf
    Dec 21, 2021 at 0:52
  • @mjjf No, it isn't. English has two present tense verbs for possession that mean the same thing: Do you have a car? Have you got a car? Yes, I've got a car. Yes, I have a car.
    – Lambie
    Dec 16, 2023 at 1:14
  • @Lambie I still have no idea what issue you have with my comment from two years ago, but it isn't worth resurrecting this conversation to find out.
    – mjjf
    Dec 17, 2023 at 20:07

2 Answers 2

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She has got three weeks' holiday.

An excerpt from this Cambridge Dictionary article explains this usage:

We can use an apostrophe + s to show duration. When the time noun is plural, the apostrophe comes after the s.

To see if this is valid for a given sentence, try replacing the apostrophe with "of" and determine if the meaning is the same:

She has got three weeks of holiday.

There are times where this isn't valid, such as:

She is three months pregnant.

Using the "of" test again we get "She is three months of pregnant" which wouldn't be a valid sentence, so we skip the apostrophe.

She has got a three-week holiday

In this sentence, "three-week" is used as a compound adjective to describe the holiday.

This question has a good explanation of compound words where there is a number + noun. See also this article from Grammarly which explains it like this:

When numbers are used as the first part of a compound adjective, use a hyphen to connect them to the noun that follows them. This way, the reader knows that both words function like a unit to modify another noun. This applies whether the number is written in words or in digits.

When to use each form (aka what is the difference between these sentences?)

This depends on the meaning intended for the sentence, the context, and in which locale this would be said. Without context it is hard to determine what you were trying to convey. Much of the time, these two forms are interchangeable.

Here are some possible meanings conveyed by this sentence:

  • She has three weeks of holiday/vacation time saved up at work (doesn't apply to the sentence with the article "a").
  • She is currently on a three-week holiday/vacation.
  • She has a three-week holiday/vacation scheduled for sometime in the future.
  • Her job gives their employees three weeks of holiday time each year.
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  • What you said about have/got and have is inaccurate. If you haven't taught English, you might not know that.
    – Lambie
    Dec 18, 2021 at 21:57
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    @lambie I don't know what specifically you're referring to as inaccurate. Feel free to post your own answer if you disagree. Please don't gatekeep the sharing of language to only English teachers though, it's pretty rude.
    – mjjf
    Dec 21, 2021 at 0:57
  • That was when I became aware of this fact. If you don't believe me, maybe you'll believe the Cambridge Dictionary: dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/… The have/have got thing also applies to American English.
    – Lambie
    Dec 17, 2023 at 20:31
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    @Lambie you have proven over and over throughout your history on this site that you can't treat others with respect. I have no interest in your thoughts on this matter - not two years ago, and not today. You've finally posted your own answer, so there is no need to bother me further.
    – mjjf
    Dec 18, 2023 at 23:33
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She's got or She has three week's holiday. [possessive]

A holiday of three weeks. However, this long form is not usually used. OR
She's got or She has a three-week holiday. [adjective]

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  • tsk, tsk, tsk, dvoter
    – Lambie
    Dec 18, 2023 at 23:27

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