One day’s mistakes

So, the writer for Yahoo! Shine knew that there was something special about this expression (hmmm, maybe it requires some punctuation?), but wasn’t sure what. So, she came up with this:

20-years-worth shine hp

Nice try. But wrong. Really wrong. The correct expression is “20 years’ worth.” It’s what the Associated Press Stylebook calls a “quasi possessive” — a possessive-like form. The Chicago Manual of Style calls it the “possessive with genitive.”According to Chicago, the genitive implies “of”: an hour’s delay (a delay of an hour). Whatever.

Here’s an easy way to figure out if you have a quasi possessive: Substitute “one” for the number. If you find that the possessive form sounds right, then you’ve got a quasi possessive. In this case, you’d try “one year’s worth” and because you have an ear for language, you know that the possessive is correct. Which brings me to the most important aspect of this method: You’ve got to have “an ear” for correct English. If you don’t, forget I told you this.


2 Responses to “One day’s mistakes”

  1. ZZMike Says:

    And here I thought Latin was complicated…..

    “… an ear for correct English ….” Good way to put it. I don’t know where I got it (maybe reading too much), but that’s what usually tips me off to something being wrong.

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