From the movie Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

The audio version is here

Look. It'll be a hard day, but I guarantee you that a 160 days' ride that way... there's nothing but salt.

Why does he say it like that? Is his grammar accurate? I thought that the only way to say something like that was either say a 160-day ride or 160 days' ride without the indefinite article.

On a regular basis, you can't really mix plural things with articles in English.

  • The "ride" is singular... "160 days'" is modifying it... So, essentially, it's combining the two forms. Remember, this is spoken English, which is full of grammatical errors. – Catija Sep 5 '15 at 17:58

The expression "a 160 days' ride" is entirely correct, in writing or speech. It refers to a ride of 160 days. This is one of those cases where the writer has a choice between using the preposition of or using the marker 's. As Catija said, the indefinite article refers to the singular ride, not the plural days, so it leads to no problems.

The form using of is a little more formal, but both are correct.


Actually, it is a difficult quite to fit into FORMAL grammar, but if you allow for the incompleteness (which is common in how people really speak), I don't see any rules broken.

The number of days is taking the place of an article. You could properly say THE day, or A day, or A FEW days, or A HUNDRED SIXTY days -- any of those has the same structure.

He says, "but I guarantee you that a hundred sixty days ridin' that way..." the a is part of the number. We frequently say "a hundred sixty" rather than "one hundred sixty" and accept either as correct, but the first way is less formal.

And the quote is a little more difficult because there is a connective that he does not say out loud and he doesn't finish his sentence. He means a hundred sixty days OF riding that way or a hundred sixty days THAT YOU WILL SPEND riding that way... A HUNDRED SIXTY modifies DAYS as an article would and DAYS acts as the subject of an incomplete statement -- we can assume that the speaker was beginning to say what 160 days riding would (or will) be like.

He says it that way because he's trying to put the young man's enthusiasm into proper perspective by emphasizing the difference between the effect of the one day they have apparently ridden so far in contrast to the effect of the 160 days of riding that are ahead (or that would be ahead). The numbers are very important to the meaning, so he has worded it to emphasize the difference in the numbers.

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