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First, please see these examples:

Noun+noun:

  • a three-hour journey

  • a ten-pound note

  • a four-week course

noun + 's + noun:

  • I've got a week's holiday starting on Monday.

  • Julia has got three weeks' holiday.

  • I live near the station and it's only ten-minutes' walk.

Are those the same way to say something? I mean, for the first example, can I write a three-hour journey as three hours' journey?

Likewise, can I write three weeks' holiday as three-week holiday? Etc. And please, I hope you'll mention about the rule of using a hyphen sign (-).

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2 Answers 2

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Both three weeks' holiday and a three-week holiday are possible. The hyphenated form acts like an adjective. "I live ten minutes' walk from the station" does not need a hyphen.

However, three hours' journey doesn't quite seem idiomatic to me, though I can't explain why.

See this

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  • I’ve seen “X hours’ Y” (AmE, primarily Northeast and West Coast). Not common, but then this form isn’t common in the first place.
    – KRyan
    Jun 10, 2021 at 21:22
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Ngram shows that both a three-hour journey and a three hours' journey are correct, but the latter is definitely less common.

This other Ngram shows what I intuitively thought that if the unit of the measure we use to modify a noun is ONE, you must use 's

a week's holiday (not a week holiday)

Also, we say

a ten-pound note (not a ten pounds' note) (Ngram)

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