How to possess the day

A conscientious writer asks about punctuating this expression:

Three nights’ accommodations or Three nights accommodations

It might seem odd to have nights possess accommodations, but we do use an apostrophe in expressions of time and worth: three weeks’ vacation, my two cents’ worth. You can chalk this one up to idiom. It’s just the way we do it in English.

Here are two links to help: The late Professor Charles Darling’s Guide to Grammar and Writing and Diane Sandford’s Wisdom from the Grammar Goddess.

If you have grammar geek tendencies (you lovely people!), you can read a Wikipedia article about the genitive case.

This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.