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Which is correct?

1 Three day's work

2 Three days' work

3 Three days work

I would probably guess (2) is right, since the work belongs to the three days ("three days of work"). But I'm not sure. Would it be different if it was only one day?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 13 down vote accepted

"Three days' work" is correct.

Yes, it would be different if it was one day: "one day's work" refers to a single day, so day would not be plural to start with.

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Seems odd to think about a the work BELONGING TO the day. How can a day have work? Maybe I'm over-thinking this one :-) –  Urbycoz Jun 9 '11 at 11:38
    
A day can have many things. It has a morning, an afternoon, an evening, a type of weather, and so on. –  Robusto Jun 9 '11 at 11:48
    
Perhaps a day's worth of work might make more sense. But as in most cases, due to the lengthiness of phrases, we cut down on words cos other people understand us anyway ... :P –  Thursagen Jun 9 '11 at 12:49
    
@Urbycoz - think of it as "work associated with a day" rather than "belonging to" if you like. –  AAT Jun 9 '11 at 21:10
    
I'd probably choose the plural attributive in "He's got three days work next week" . We've had a discussion before about the current trend to drop the Saxon genitive in associative rather than possessive / 'of' structures. The writers' day was spent at the Writers Guild. –  Edwin Ashworth Jun 22 at 19:04

It's "three days' work" because of the fact that there are three days. As this is a plural, the apostrophe comes after "s" to distinguish it from a singular, which has the apostrophe come before the "s":

The cat's fur/ singular

The cats' meows/ plural

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Or even "The cat's fur/ singular" and "The cats' fur/ plural". –  Urbycoz Jun 9 '11 at 11:40
    
You got it! :) :) –  Thursagen Jun 9 '11 at 11:43
1  
not to mention the cat's meows (single cat, plural meows) –  mplungjan Jun 9 '11 at 11:43
    
Or the cat's litters' mess –  Thursagen Jun 9 '11 at 11:46

The second option, 'three days' work' is correct. Standard possessive form for a plural.

The construction is used to relate value of the work and the time spent on that work. "I did three days' work in two [days]" is an example. "I did a thousand dollars' work but was paid five hundred" follows the same pattern.

The standard possessive construction is used. The item being possessed is the implied value.

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+1 for use of grammar terms –  EleventhDoctor Feb 2 at 10:38

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