I am going to make up two similar sentences below.

(1) This colorful vase is limited-edition.

(2) This colorful vase is a limited edition.

Which one is correct?

  • The correct one is limited edition, no dash.
    – Lambie
    Mar 19, 2017 at 15:58
  • 1
    Google returns practically no results at a phrase "limited-edition". I think the variant without the hyphen and with an indefinite article in front is right.
    – Alexander
    Mar 19, 2017 at 16:07

5 Answers 5


Looking at the website of Oxford Dictionaries (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/punctuation/hyphen), it does not seem like there is a specific rule concerning hyphens which would apply here.

Grammar Book goes into it a little bit deeper (http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/hyphens.asp), however, no rules which indicate there should be a hyphen can be found there.

Adding that to the fact that there are only a few search results for "limited-edition" and many for "limited edition" (including Wikipedia and some dictionary websites), I think it should be written as "limited edition".

(Also, concerning the "a": I would use an article here, so it would be "a limited edition".)


If the phrase were reversed, it would be correct to use the hyphen to say a limited-edition vase. (In other words, if limited edition is used as an adjective prior to the noun, it should be hyphenated.)


I'd say OP's #1 is less common, but perfectly credible (there are many instances of (model) was a limited edition in Google Books, but none at all for the same without the article).

I think the hyphenation is pretty much "optional" in both versions, though personally I'd be more likely to hyphenate the "adjectival" article-less usage in #1, not the "noun" one in #2.

It does also partly depend on whether the speaker is referring to the vase/model/etc. as a "collective" (representing both itself and all others in the limited-membership edition/set/issue/etc.) or simply stating an attribute of the specific object. I find OP's #1 more "natural" in the former context.

For example, an advertisement encouraging you to buy their "collectable" commemorative plates (for display) might reasonably include this plate is limited-edition in their list of favourable attributes. They don't mean to reference any specific plate there - they mean the entire collection, collectively.


Correct would be "a limited-edition" though you could leave out the "a" but it wouldn't sound right. Would be like saying "This vase is blue one" I understand, but saying "This vase is a blue one" is gramatically correct and makes more sense


This is an interesting question which leads to an answer which is not straight forward due to the advice available online.

Both are correct, and it is down to whether indefinite articles are used within the sentence, or not.

Rule 5 within the Grammer Book link @user12048 provided, gives a clue as to what you need to look at.

Rule 5. Never hesitate to add a hyphen if it solves a possible problem. Following are two examples of well-advised hyphens:

   Confusing: Springfield has little town charm.
   With hyphen: Springfield has little-town charm.

Without the hyphen, the sentence seems to say that Springfield is a dreary place. With the hyphen, little-town becomes a compound adjective, making the writer's intention clear: Springfield is a charming small town.

   Confusing: She had a concealed weapons permit.
   With hyphen: She had a concealed-weapons permit.

With no hyphen, we can only guess: Was the weapons permit hidden from sight, or was it a permit for concealed weapons? The hyphen makes concealed-weapons a compound adjective, so the reader knows that the writer meant a permit for concealed weapons.

The sentence

This colorful vase is limited-edition.

has the need for a hyphen, because, without it the sentence would not make sense. "This colourful vase is limited edition" would say that the vase is limited, (limited by what? — Use?), but then you have the word edition laying loose on the end of the sentence. You could add the word by into it to say "limited by edition" but then that would signify that the number of editions are limited. Without the hyphen, the sentence would need to be rearranged to "The edition of the colorful vase is limited" in order for the sentence to make sense, but then you would need to add, for example, "by quantity" or "by number of these vases manufactured" on the end to be sure the reader understands the context. (The edition is limited by what?)

Using the hyphen joins the words limited and edition together to say that the edition is limited.

This colorful vase is a limited edition.

is different because the indefinite articlea — splits the sentence

this colorful vase is ¦ a limited edition

indicating that the edition is limited and the vase is colourful.

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