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1. Take a 20 minutes' break.

2. Take 20 minutes' break.

3. Take a 20-minute break.

4. That's a 20 minutes' delay.

5. That's 20 minutes' delay.

6. That's a 20-minute delay.

Which of the above sentences is not acceptable?
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Your question: Which of the above sentences is not acceptable?

Well, Let me answers it in another way. The only accpetable answers are #3 and 6
Hi,

1. Take a 20 minutes' break. No

2. Take 20 minutes' break. OK

3. Take a 20-minute break.OK, very common

4. That's a 20 minutes' delay. No

5. That's 20 minutes' delay. OK

6. That's a 20-minute delay. OK, very common

Best wishes, Clive
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Hello Teo

The rule is "English nouns cannot be modified by more than one determiner".

a (5 minutes)' walk :
"a" is a determiner, "(5 minutes)'" is a determiner (not OK)
(5 minutes)' walk :
"(5 minutes)'s" is a determiner (OK)
a 5-minute walk
"a" is a determiner, "5-minute" is an adjective. (OK)

paco
There's a girls' high school near here.
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Hello!

I'm quite puzzled, because my grammar states that "a ten minutes' break" and " a thirty miles' drive" are quite correct... Emotion: rolleyes
Hello Teo and Pieanne

"There's a girls' high school near here". This "girls'" is a "descriptive genitive" according to the terms used by some grammarians. Unlike the possessive s-genitive, the descriptive genitive behaves like an adjective rather than like a determiner so that it can be compatible with a (central) determiner. So we might say like "There are three excellent girls' high schools in Tokyo".

The genitives in "a ten minutes' break" and " a thirty miles' drive" are called as "genitive of measure". As to the genitive of measure, Quirk mentions nothing about whether it behaves as an adjective or as a determiner. But actually it is likely most native speakers are avoiding the adjectival use of the genitive of measure. For example, google-wise 12500 people are saying "three X minute lectures" but only 128 people are saying "three X minutes lectures" or "three X minutes' lectures".

paco
Thank you, Paco. Emotion: smile My grammar also says that "a 20-minute break" and "a 20-mile drive" are more frequent... I guess this closes the matter!
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