Sometimes, language rules can be confusing, and that’s no different when we talk about “years” and the potential placement of the apostrophe in it. There are three main suspects, each of which we’ll talk about in this article so you can see which one makes the most sense in which scenarios.
Should I Use Years, Years’ Or Year’s?
Years should be used when you’re talking about multiple years as it is the plural form of “year”. “Year’s” should be used when you’re talking about a singular time unit as a compound time expression. “Years'” should be used similarly to “year’s” but is reserved for a plural time unit.
Of course, initially, that might sound a little bit confusing. Don’t worry; it’s actually fairly easy to tell the difference between the three. Once we start looking into a couple of examples and scenarios when one is used over the other, you should pick it up quite quickly. We’ll also include a quiz at the end, though, to make sure you’ve understood what we’re talking about.
5 Examples Of How To Use “Years” In A Sentence
So, let’s start with some simple examples. The most common version that people come across is “years,” so starting with that makes the most sense. It’s the plural of the word “year,” so anytime you’re talking about something that’s happening a few years previously or in the future, then “years” is probably the right word for you.
- I need to change my job in three years.
- I am fifty years old.
- What happened in the last years?
- You’ve been a teacher for six years?
- How many years was that?
5 Examples Of How To Use “Years'” In A Sentence
Now, let’s look at when it’s good to use “years’.” Once you understand how “years'” works in a sentence, you’ll be pretty much set to understand “year’s” as well. Since “years'” is the plural form of “year’s,” we’re just going to be changing the number of years in each example to demonstrate.
- We’re going away in three years’ time.
- Two years’ work experience.
- Let’s go somewhere in two years’ time.
- Three years’ free warranty guarantee.
- Four years’ free insurance.
5 Examples Of How To Use “Year’s” In A Sentence
And finally, as we said before, we’ll look at the singular form of “year’s” in a few examples.
- We’re going away in one year’s time.
- This year’s work experience.
- Let’s go somewhere in one year’s time.
- Last year’s free warranty guarantee.
- New year’s free insurance.
Does The Rule Also Apply To “New Years”, “New Year’s”, Or “New Years'”?
Some people have asked before about whether the rules also apply to the “new years.” The simple fact is that, yes, the same rule does apply, but you’ll rarely be talking about “New Year’s” in the same way you’ll be talking about “years.” If you wanted to know how to write “New Year’s Day,” it’s always written with an apostrophe, then the “s” because “New Year” is in possession of the “Day” part of the phrase.
Technically, the same rule should work for “new years,” but you never really have to pluralize “new year.” If you’re referring to a new year, you’re often only talking about one year. If you’re not referring to a new year, then you’re referring to one or a few specific years, meaning the original rule still applies. It just doesn’t work out that well when you’re trying to say “new year’s” or “new years’.”
However, there are some instances where we can see the rule in play. For example, if you were to say “the new year’s offering us new life,” then it shows that the rule does, in fact, apply to “new years.” Since “year” is still being used in the phrase, it should always follow the same rule.
Quiz: Have You Mastered Years, Years’, Or Year’s?
- One (A. years / B. years’ / C. year’s) experience.
- Two (A. years / B. years’ / C. year’s) free warranty.
- I’ve been here for seventeen (A. years / B. years’ / C. year’s).
- You’re not four (A. years / B. years’ / C. year’s) old anymore.
- Three (A. years / B. years’ / C. year’s) experience.
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Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.