Whether to use year’s experience or years’ experience can be pretty confusing! Here’s how to tell them apart, and when you should use each one in a sentence.
Thanks to the way the English language works, there are some things that are very complicated, or just needlessly difficult. Apostrophes are one of them and confuse lots of people, sometimes you don’t need one at all, sometimes they go before the ‘s and sometimes they go after the s’.
Year’s Experience Vs. Years’ Experience
The main difference between these two is that one is singular and one is plural: one year versus multiple years.
If you were talking about the experience of just one, single year, you would say year’s experience. But if you were talking about the experience of multiple years, you would say years’ experience.
It’s actually quite simple to remember this rule, and it works with many other words as well. If you want to make a word possessive (as in, the experience that the year or years possess), all you need to focus on is whether or not the word ends in the letter S.
For instance, if you wanted to talk about the project of one student, that would be “the student’s project.” If you were talking about the project of multiple students, that would be “the students’ project.” This rule holds true across the language.
When to Use Year’s Experience
This is what you would say if you were talking about one single year.
For example, if you were just talking about 2021 by itself, you would say “this year’s experience.” If you are adding an apostrophe and an S to the word in question, you’d always do it like this.
When to Use Years’ Experience
This is what you would say if you were talking about multiple years. That means any number greater than one. If you were mentioning several years of professional experience on a resume, you would say that you have “two years’ experience.”
However, in such a situation, it should be noted that saying you have “two years’ experience” is a little odd, as opposed to saying “two years of experience.” The meaning is the same and both are grammatically acceptable, but most people would agree that “years of experience” sounds better.
Examples of Year’s Experience in a Sentence
Here are a few examples to help you remember when “year’s experience” is appropriate:
- This year’s experience hasn’t been great for me.
- Now that it’s New Year’s Day, I’m reflecting on this year’s experience before it’s over.
- Summer camp is going to be a big part of this year’s experience.
Examples of Years’ Experience in a Sentence
Here are a few examples to help you remember when “years’ experience” is appropriate:
- The Captain has ten years’ experience in the Army.
- She has but a few years’ experience fishing, but it’s better than nothing.
How to Remember the Difference Between Year’s and Years’
As we stated previously, the main difference between these two is that one is singular and one is plural.
But if you want to make things even simpler than that, remember this: if you’re adding an apostrophe to a word without an S on the end, you are going to add ‘S to it. If you are adding that apostrophe to a word that already ends in S, it will be S’.
Test Yourself on Year’s Versus Years’ With These Test Sentences
Use these sentences to determine if you have a grasp of the difference between these words. Fill in the ( ) blank:
- I can’t wait to go to this ( ) Christmas party!
- You need a few more ( ) experience before we’ll hire you.
- The ( ) suffering between 1939 and 1945 cannot be overstated.
- What is this ( ) Chinese zodiac symbol?