People often forget the rules which govern the use of year’s or years or years in the English language.
It is not straightforward because it depends on whether you are using singular or plural noun forms and possession. Oftentimes native English speakers get lazy and misspell years.
This article has been written to help explain better when to use year’s, years, or years’. Follow along with the explanations and examples so you can use the correct form in sentences.
Year’s, Years’ and Years
In a nutshell, here are the rules:
Years is used as the plural of year. For example, “it’s been three years since I’ve seen Alice.”
Year’s is used to show the singular possessive form of ‘year.’ For example, “This year’s calendar focuses on the community and spirit of the parish.”
Year’s can also be a contraction (shortened form) for ‘year is.’ For example, “the year’s moving by fast.”
Years’ is used to show the plural possessive form of ‘year.’ For example, “Ian has two years’ experience.”
Year’s and Years’
The possessive form shows ownership or belonging between things, like “the cat’s tail” and “David’s toys.”
Year’s is used with the singular possessive form of ‘year’ whereas years’ is looking at the plural possessive form of ‘year.’ Singular means ‘one year’ whereas plural means ‘more than one year.’
Let’s look in more detail at the differences between year’s and years.’
If we want to use the singular possessive (one year only), we can spell year as year’s.
Example Sentences with Year’s
- The wedding is in one year’s time.
- I bought this year’s calendar.
- I changed a year’s worth of diapers. (meaning: an amount of something that lasts one year)
- Alex has one year’s experience in public relations.
If we want to use the plural possessive (more than one year), we spell year as years’.
Example Sentences with Years’
- I have two years’ experience working for P&G.
- He has two years’ worth of learning completed online.
- The job position requires three years’ experience (the experience of three years).
Year’s experience or years’ experience?
We must use an apostrophe because years is a possessive form.
- This is my dog’s collar.
- I read about the hurricane disaster in today’s newspaper.
- I am due one month’s pay before the holiday.
- I am going to the hairdresser in one week’s time.
- I’ve just completed a day’s work and I am exhausted.
Similar to the examples above, we would say “year’s experience”(singular) or “years’ experience” (plural).
- Kate has two years’ experience working as a waitress.
- Mike has one year’s experience in dentistry.
- Chad has thirty-five years’ experience working there.
Where the noun is plural, we simply add an apostrophe to the end.
Alternatively (and most preferably), we could say:
- Kate has two years of experience working as a waitress.
- Mike has one year of experience in dentistry.
- Chad has thirty-five years of experience working there.
This does not require an apostrophe. Most people prefer to write it without an apostrophe. By adding ‘of’ you can avoid the confusion altogether.
Incorrect Way to Write Year’s and Years’
Here are some examples of sentences with years’ and years’-not to be mixed up!
- I am going to move house in one year’s of time. [incorrect- no ‘of’]
- I hope to move house in one year’s time/ I hope to move house in one week. [correct]
- He has five years’ of experience in finance. [incorrect- no apostrophe (‘) with ‘of.’]
- She has five years of experience/ She has five years’ experience. [correct]
If we want to make year plural, we add an -s.
- The college degree program lasts three years.
- I’ve worked on my business for years.
- How many years until the next Olympics?
- He is ten years old.
- I bought this jacket years ago.
Compound Adjectives with Year
We form a compound adjective when we merge two words with a hyphen to describe a noun.
We don’t need to add an ‘s’ for compound adjectives.
- Eden went on a two-year work visa to Canada.
- Jeffrey took a one-year break from his studies.
- Laura created a three-year plan with personal goals she would like to achieve.
Is it two year’s or two years?
The plural form of year is years. For example, “He worked in that job for two years.” The plural possessive form of year is years’. For example, “She is going to move to Australia in two years’ time.”
When do years take an apostrophe?
We take an apostrophe to show possession—examples: a year’s notice, two years’ notice, three years’ notice.
Is it last year or last year’s?
We use last year’s if the sentence requires possession. For example, “last year’s gathering was excellent” versus “I went to the dentist last year.”
What does a year’s time mean?
We use this phrase to mean one year’s worth of time. A period of three hundred and sixty-five days. For example, “I will visit in a year’s time.”
When do you use years?
Years is the plural form of the noun year. We use the word years when we are talking about more than one year.
What is the difference between “next year” and “coming year?”
“Next year” and “coming year” both mean the same thing. It usually means January of next year. If it is January right now, they probably mean the current year.
“Next year” or “the next year?”
We use the next year when we are talking about the year immediately after this year; for example, “I will study a new language next year.”
We might use “the next year” to describe a year in the future or past. For example, “I am going to go to Argentina next year, and the next year I am going to go to Peru.” We can also say “the year after that” instead of saying “the next year.”
We can use year, years or year’s in our sentences.
Year’s – singular possessive case
Years’ – plural possessive case
Years – when year is used in the plural sense.