1. Please give me a two hour leave

  2. Please give me two hours leave

    Providing that those are correct, Could you tell me when/ in which situation you would rather use one over the other?

    Meanwhile, would you tell me if I have well rephrased number 1?

    a two hour(long) leave

  • 1
    In the first sentence, hyphen is required. Please grant me a two-hour leave. The second one is correct if it has apostrophe. Please grant me two hours' leave. – Maulik V Aug 5 '14 at 9:17

When you form adjectives from numbers there are two factors to bear in mind:

  1. Number adjectives are always hyphenated:

two-hour leave

three-mile hike

five-year-old child

  1. Unlike in other languages, English adjectives are never pluralized. By way of contrast, in Spanish the adjective ciego blind (person), can be made plural ciegos blind (people). Not so in English - so much so that even the counted element in a numerical adjective takes a singular form:

two hours ➝ two-hour

three miles ➝ three-mile

five years old ➝ five-year-old

  • Could we use the plural form if we apply the possessive 's: "Give me two hours' leave"? Such usage seems to be OK in some cases, like "I have two years' experience in..". english.stackexchange.com/questions/119751/… – CowperKettle Aug 5 '14 at 13:53
  • 1
    Yes, because then it ceases to be adjectival and becomes partitive in nature, i.e. the same as saying "two years of experience" or "two hours of leave" – CocoPop Aug 5 '14 at 13:55

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