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

She has got three weeks' holiday.


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)?

  • "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 at 2:18

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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