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ESL forum > Techniques and methods in Language Teaching > I need your help for this....    

I need your help for this....


I need your help for this....
I didn �t understand the use of the apostrophe in this sentence, "So you �re only getting about four hours � sleep?"
Someone can help me, please?

2 Jul 2012      

maryse pey�

This is the possessive apostrophe, the genitive as "4 hours" is considered as a period, a length of time so the genitive is correct here.
a 4 hours � sleep = he has been sleeping (or �he slept) for 4 hours.
Hope this is clear enough and could help.

2 Jul 2012     


that �s the case of an inanimate possession which is generally substituted with an of-phrase and is considered incorrect but with the time and measurements it �s acceptable and absolutely correct.
four hours - is plural, so according to general rules of the use of possessive, the apostrophe goes after the plural ending "s" and no "s" is added
and sleep here is a noun, so it means sleep which lasts four hours= four hours � sleep
Other examples:
a ten days � trip
a good night �s sleep
in a month �s time (i.e. in one month)
a twenty minutes � walk


2 Jul 2012     


It �s been a hard day �s night, and I �ve been working like a dog...
Another option without the saxon genitive would be
A FOUR-HOUR SLEEP, in this case hour is in the singular because it is functioning as an adjective.

2 Jul 2012     


I �m a bit confused. I thought it was:
a ten-day trip, a four-star restaurant or a two-hour drive

what �s the difference then?

2 Jul 2012     

United States

Generally, we don �t use "a" with this possessive form.
I took a two-hour nap.
I was operating on two hours � sleep.
I was operating on two hours of sleep.
All three of these are common usage.

2 Jul 2012     


Hi, it �s similar to say "quatro horas de sono" the genitive ( hours ) in this case replaces "de".
I hope this helped you.

2 Jul 2012     


Sorry, Bruce is right, we don �t use "a" with plural possessives like that, my mistake.

2 Jul 2012