Which of the following sentences is correct?

She won a five-thousand-dollar prize!

She won a five thousand-dollar prize!

She won a five thousand dollar prize!

She won a five thousand dollars prize!

  • The last one is definitely incorrect. The others are a question of hyphenation, which is a stylistic issue on which opinions vary. Oct 5 '20 at 22:01
  • @PeterShor Thanks for commenting! What you're saying, then, is that there's no real rule that dictates the proper usage of hyphenation pertaining to this particular scenario? In other words, does it just boil down to what style guide you follow?
    – Rustpen
    Oct 5 '20 at 22:11
  • You missed out an option. You could also have "...a five-thousand dollar prize" but I'm not sure that any style guide recommends it
    – BoldBen
    Oct 5 '20 at 23:14
  • One style guide's opinion. Oct 5 '20 at 23:26

The hyphens are not necessary to be used. However, they come in handy when there are several successive attribute, and it is ambiguous which attribute goes with each word.

In a way, they behave like parenthesis. You need to understand which words make the most meaning together and which is the base word. The you use the hyphens to group together the words which have a meaning together.

The analysis of your case

I assume that the meaning you want to want to convey is "a prize of 5000 dollars".

In this case, "five" and "thousand" must be together: "five-thousand".

Next, it is quite clear that "dollar-prize" is not an option. And we are left with "dollar". If we leave it stand-alone as in "five-thousand dollar prize", it is kind of out-of-place.

So my option would be to write:

She won a five-thousand-dollar prize!

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