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I know that it is "six years' experience", and I know that it is "six-minute video".

my question is, can I replace the previous structures with "six-year experience" and " six minutes' video" .

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    I would say a 'six-year' experience refers to a single event, for example being marooned on an uninhabited island. Commented Mar 12, 2021 at 16:56
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    Six year's experience means you have done something for six years, gaining experience each year. Six-year experience is an experience that lasts for six years. So "I have six year's experience building houses." And "Escaping from Moon Colony X was a six-year experience."
    – EllieK
    Commented Mar 12, 2021 at 16:57

2 Answers 2

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In a phrase like "six years' experience", the time period of "six years" is a noun phrase acting as a quantifier.

In a phrase like "six-minute video", the period of "six-minutes" is an adjective describing the video.

So they are very different.

Your suggested alternatives are not idiomatic and just don't sound right.

"Six years' experience" means that you have experience spanning 6 years. It is a typical statement found on a job application or CV/resume. It idiomatically means your job experience, which is always growing. A "six-year experience" would mean a specific experience that lasted 6 years. It wouldn't mean the same thing.

Likewise, a "six-minute video" is a video that lasts 6 minutes. Saying "six minutes' video" would perhaps mean six minutes of a a longer video? Pointedly, it wouldn't mean what you want it to mean.

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The question here is really about using a noun as an adjective.

And, as such, the possessive is a separate question. That is because a possessive such as the cat's pajamas stands for the pajamas of the cat and is unrelated to adjectives. "minutes" is a noun, and, therefore, cannot be an adjective with the s.

  • A six-minute video = six minute is used adjectivally.
  • A six-year experience = same thing.
  • A ten-year sting

Those are also sometimes written as: 10-year X or 6-minute Y, for example.

Six years' experience is a possessive. Or: Six years of experience.

I have six years' experience as an ABC. [possessive] I have six years of experience as an ABC.

A six-year experience can be a long time. [adjective]

In short, adjectival use of nouns requires removal of the s unless you are doing a more British thing as in drugs policy.

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