Language Problems: ’4 Years(‘) Experience’
As a non-native speaker, I am sometimes unsure in matters of the English language. While I’m pretty knowledgeable regarding grammar and sentence structure – a knowledge acquired through studying linguistics and also Latin for a number of years – there are some grey spots in my mind.
One such grey spot concerns the construction ‘years experience’. For instance, I have over 4 years / years’ experience as remote worker. Which one is correct? With or without apostrophe? Typing the construction into Google doesn’t help. The rest of the world too seems to have a problem with this. Here are some examples copied from search results when inputting ‘years’ experience’:
- CERTIFIED SERVICE TECHNICIAN Minimum 3 years experience
Backed by 40 years experience
Forty Years’ Experience
Nanny with 7 years experience
We are looking to recruit a Solicitor with 4 years’ corporate experience
I suppose my confusion partly stems from my native language (German). For instance, you can say:
“Wir suchen einen Anwalt mit 4 Jahren Erfahrung (We are looking for a solicitor with 4 years experience)”
Here, ‘Jahren’ (years) seems to be used as plural form (4 years). On the other hand, less elegantly, you could also say:
“Wir suchen einen Anwalt mit Erfahrung von 4 Jahren (We are looking for a solicitor with 4 years of experience)”
Here, ‘von 4 Jahren’ is I think Genitive – or is it Dative? See, I’m not even sure here :) – if it were Genitive, I would be inclined to argue that the apostrophe in English (in the first sentence, i.e. the one without the ‘of’) is necessary. But I’m not sure and the more I think about it, the less sure I am :P
I’m hoping that someone can clear up the issue once and for all. So, today’s question:
- Which one is correct: “I have 4 years experience” OR “I have 4 years’ experience“?
- More importantly, why?