1. This book is the first volume and part of a ten-year period of..

  2. This book is the first volume and part of a ten years period of..

  3. This book is the first volume and part of the ten year period of..

Which is correct?

  • 2
    Number one and three are grammatically correct, but given the context number one is the answer. "ten-year" is appropriately hyphenated, but only a real pedant would tell you "ten year" is wrong. The first one is best because it says "a ten-year period", because there are many many 10 year periods that have happened throughout history. "the 10 year period" only makes sense when referring to one specific 10 year period, such as "the 10 year period of King James III's reign" – mstorkson Jan 9 '17 at 15:19
  • @mstorkson: I don't recognise that distinction. Most people usually hyphenate compound noun adjunct usages like this, but I don't believe it makes any difference to hyphenation whether "ten-year period" is preceded by a definite or indefinite article. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jan 9 '17 at 16:32
  • @FumbleFinger those were two separate thoughts. Hyphenation is appropriate, but in addition to that, there is a difference between "a ten-year period" and "the ten-year period". I didn't imply any relation between the two – mstorkson Jan 9 '17 at 16:45
  • @mstorkson: oic. Well, given OP hasn't actually given enough context to guess what follows ten-year period of, how can you confidently assert that #1 is in fact the answer? – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jan 9 '17 at 17:15
  • I see how a book may be a (partial) product of ten years of [some activity], but I don't see how a book could be any part of a timespan. – StoneyB on hiatus Jan 9 '17 at 17:37

Number (1) is correct. When a hyphen is used to join two words, they become one "thing" together as a whole. E.g.

  • A ten-year period
  • Two ten-year periods
  • A multimillion-dollar machine

Note that the "A" is referring to the number of objects being described, i.e. "period" and "machine". "Ten-year" is an adjective for "period", and "multimillion-dollar" is an adjective for "machine".

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