I'm developing a tool that looks at a person's resume and skill set. One of the features is to estimate how much experience a person has based on the length of time on a project and associated skills/tools used in that time (we've had extensive talks about the limitations of this, but that's not really relevant to this question). At the end of the day, I'd like to be able to say "Bob has 4 years experience with C#," but the correct way to show that is unclear to me:

Bob has 4 years experience with C#
Bob has 4 year's experience with C#
Bob has 4 years' experience with C#

I'm writing documentation and the phrase "number of years experience" has shown up a few times, but I think that's the same situation as above (Word grammar checker does not like this phrase).

marked as duplicate by Phil M Jones, choster, Nathaniel, Sven Yargs, TimLymington Nov 27 '15 at 0:09

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  • 2
    "Bob has 4 years of experience" or "Bob has an experience of 4 years" or "Bob has a four-year experience" (as in "a four-year old child"). – Pantelis Sopasakis Sep 25 '15 at 16:42
  • Thanks, "years of experience" seems perfectly natural but I'd never considered that before. Are the phrases used in my post incorrect? – BurnsBA Sep 25 '15 at 16:48
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    I'm not sure whether the first one is acceptable. The second one is definitely wrong, while the third one is correct. Check out also this post: writing-skills.com/years-experience-or-years-experience – Pantelis Sopasakis Sep 25 '15 at 16:53
  • "years of experience" can be read either as plural years, in non-possessive form, followed by an an elided/assumed pronoun of, followed by experience, or as plural-possessive years' which possesses experience. – Hot Licks Oct 25 '15 at 22:33

Bob has 4 years' experience. (="4 years' worth of experience", "experience of 4 years".)
Or Bob has 4 years of experience, of course.

The phrase Bob's 4‑year experience with C# is meaningful too, but wouldn't normally be useful in this context.

One can't ask about "number of years experience" in that sense, not with any apostrophe option. The phrase just doesn't parse.
You can document your thing as e.g. "number of years of experience" or "experience (in years)" or "length of experience in years".


The first one. Bob has 4 years experience.

  • 4
    Do you have a reference showing that this is the preferred option out of the three? – Nathaniel Sep 25 '15 at 21:57

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