5

We often say "I have 5 years of experience" or "I have 5 years' experience" and "experience" is uncountable.

But I also see people write "I have 5-year experience"

Similarly, Do we say "I paid a deposit of 2-month rent", "I paid a deposit of 2 months' rent", and "I paid a deposit of 2 months of rent", the same way with "experience" (In this case, rent is uncountable)?

However, the noun "rent" is countable and uncountable.

For example,

I pay rent every month

I pay a rent of 200 dollars every month

Do we say "I paid a deposit of a 2-month rent", "I paid a deposit of a 2 months' rent", and "I paid a deposit of 2 months of a rent"?

2

2 Answers 2

8

*I have five years of experience. It needs an s.
OR
I have five years' experience. The "of" governs the possessive.

*I pay a rent of 200 dollars a month. [Right, plural dollars]
OR
*I pay 200 dollars' rent a month. [rent of 200 dollars]
*I paid a deposit of two months' rent. Possessive

That is how you say a deposit of two months' rent.

Because it is a deposit of two months of rent.

two years of experience=two years' experience
two months of rent=two months' rent
five years of experience=five years' experience

Those of + noun can be made possessive which is how one often would say/write it.

*five years' experience = you have 5 years experience doing something

  • five-year experience = you spent 5 years having some experience
6
  • Note that this is the opposite of normal possessives. Usually "X or Y" becomes "Y's X" -- "the door of the car" is "the car's door".
    – Barmar
    Commented Jan 3 at 15:56
  • @Barmar Actually, it would be the "car door".
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 3 at 16:12
  • 1
    That's a separate transformation for components, it doesn't apply to possessives in general. E.g. "Mary's book" isn't "Mary book".
    – Barmar
    Commented Jan 3 at 17:12
  • 1
    @Stef Yes, I guess you can make it a noun as adjective. But a five-year experience is not the same meaning as five years' experience or of experience. If you see what I mean...
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 3 at 17:46
  • 1
    @Stef OK, I added it. Just for you. :)
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 3 at 18:28
5

But I also see people write "I have 5-year experience"

Disregard those cases. Their meaning is clear, so it's no big mistake, but this isn't a standard way to talk about an amount of time that happens to have passed.

It is common in situations like: "I signed a two-year lease" or "This car comes with a five-year warranty." The difference between these and the previous example is that these amounts of time are "attributes," distinguishing features of this item. This car comes with red paint, leather seats... and a five-year warranty. And when I sign a rental contract on an apartment, the two-year period of the contract is a type of contract. But when I talk about my experience at work, that's not something that comes in "five-year, ten-year" etc. varieties. Similarly, if I ask you for the rent appropriate for two months, that isn't really a quality describing some other thing.

There are several forms for just generally relating a duration of time to something else that's equivalent:

  • possessive: "two months' rent", "five years' experience," "one day's pay"
  • you can also add the phrase "worth of": "two months' worth of rent"
  • depending on the situation, you can just use "of" by itself: "five years of experience." This is a bit less idiomatic with "two months of rent," and even less with "one day of pay." That's because the experience is being measured in years, but the other two are measuring money as equivalent to amounts of time.
2
  • I think the hyphenated form would be correct when "experience" is used in the countable sense, for instance: "I have a two-year experience as ..." or jokingly "I have a one-evening experience as ..."
    – Stef
    Commented Jan 3 at 17:49
  • @Stef I'm skeptical, mainly because I don't think "work experience" is countable. That's the whole reason for the "five years' worth" construction; non-count nouns need units of measure, like "two cups of flour." Countable experiences usually refer to something so finite in time that it's not usually measured, like "I had a bad experience the last time I ate shrimp." Commented Jan 3 at 17:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .