So, I may conclude then that my sentences are used in formal spoken English, right? Now, I’ve looked up a few sentences in one my dictionaries ‘Collins Cobuild’, I’m sure you’re familiar with it. But do I have to believe everything what ‘CC’ says? Well, here are the sentences:
She asked for absence of leave to go to a funeral.
He asked for 48 hours’ leave.
She returned after five years’ leave of absence. (Shouldn’t I add ‘a’ after after? -She returned after a five years’ leave of absence)
Are these sentences correct and may I have your opinion on ‘CC’. I mean one of my colleagues seems to consider it as ‘The Great Fairy Tale Book of the English Language’ as it were. It’s the only dictionary she every uses to look up words and expressions, however, in my opinion, ‘CC’ sometimes gives vague definitions. Don’t forget to tell me whether my conclusion in the first paragraph in this message is correct.
Why do you think those may not be correct?
They are the same format as some that I confirmed were correct above:
The hyphens are only strictly necessary in the singular unit of time constructions (Perhaps I didn’t explain the difference well enough above, sorry). The constructions which utilise apostrophes don’t need hyphens, even formally. The sentences you write and which I have indicated are correct are in common use, not just in formal use (but they are correct for formal use as you surmise.)
You would only need ‘a’ in your last example if you used the alternative construction:
She returned after a five-year leave of absence. (a single absence which lasted five years)
For precision, it’s always best to have more than one dictionary available.
She returned after five years’ leave of absence. (five years’ worth of leave)
Hi NN, it’s 1:51 am over here, I don’t what time it is where you live? But would say ‘I had never thought…’ is more common in BrE? After all, Joan Collins, who played who played her was the evil character number one, the female JR as it were, played… well her charater was British. Ofcourse, it was she who made the series so popular - because at the beginning it could barely compete with ‘Dallas’- I think the producers urged and forced her to get to speak AmE after some time. You know what I mean?
Oh, dear, English is not an easy language, because: here are some differences:
Since when have you been so concerned about that old lady? (BrE)
Since when are you so concerned about that old lady? (AmE)
Now as far as the apostrophe is concerned, it is not really needed, it only depends on how you want to say and write it:
I took a two-week leave of absence or
I took a two weeks’ of absense.