In ten years time, you'll have forgotten about all of your "failures".

I've observed that in some constructions of the form "in [some amount of time]" (e.g. in the above "in ten years"), the word time appears at the end when apparently it doesn't change the meaning of the expression whatsoever.

What is its purpose?

  • 2
    I think it's called a postnomial modifier (a modifier, here an adjective, that comes after, textually, the noun it modifies). It means "a span of 10 years", and you can use it anywhere you could otherwise use "a span of 10 years". At least in all the test cases which occur to me. Stylistically, it has somewhat of a more poetic quality, which is hard to pin down exactly. I would prefer the years be cast in the genitive (possessive), as in ten years' time: the time span that belongs to ten years.
    – Dan Bron
    Jul 20, 2016 at 22:00
  • ... Yes, it's often used as an encouragement to get through difficulties happening now (as here) or when waxing (whimsically?) philosophical (In fifty years' time we will all have robot cleaners)' Jul 20, 2016 at 22:10
  • I'm not sure that it doesn't change the meaning somewhat--or at least it shifts the emphasis. By adding the word "time," it is saying that time itself will be what will have made you forget about all your failures. This is as opposed to some event(s) happening within or at the end of those ten years that will make you forget. No matter what happens, what those ten years contain, by the end, time will have made you forget your failures regardless.
    – user184292
    Jul 20, 2016 at 22:12

1 Answer 1


Your example should read "ten years' time" and I think that should explain a bit for you. "Time" in this case refers to the time contained in ten years. For singular you would put the apostrophe after the R making it "One year's time".

  • Now the construction makes perfect sense. Thank you for the answer. Jul 20, 2016 at 22:07
  • @MichaelSmith Since Slepz here has posted an answer which focuses on the issue which was problematic for you, I suggest you accept his answer. I don't need to post a duplicate.
    – Dan Bron
    Jul 20, 2016 at 22:09
  • This does not address the question, which was about the difference (if any) between 'In ten years time, you'll have forgotten about all of your "failures".' and 'In ten years, you'll have forgotten about all of your "failures".' Jul 20, 2016 at 22:13
  • @EdwinAshworth No difference as far as I can tell. Just a stylistic choice to emphasize that the passage of time is more relevant than specific date ten years from now. Like the difference between saying "in a year" and "on July 20th, 2017"
    – Slepz
    Jul 20, 2016 at 22:17

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