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Is there a grammar rule behind the hyphen in the phrase 'one-act play'?

Okay, so it might sound like a primitive question. However, I can find out a reasoning or maybe which form is correct.

The sentence is

This is a three parts series.

I'm not sure if I should add the delimiter or not; and maybe there is a possession "'s", and I'm not quite sure of that. So any help with explanation would be great!

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marked as duplicate by jwpat7, Jim, Matt E. Эллен, kiamlaluno, Daniel Jun 27 '12 at 23:02

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

three-part is a compound adjective describing series. –  cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Jun 26 '12 at 0:18
There is no possession. Unless it's your three-part series. –  Jim Jun 26 '12 at 1:22

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I would write it like this:

This is a three-part series.

No s, with a hyphen. As for why, when you put a compound adjectival phrase (like three-part) in front of a noun, you hyphenate it.

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