In the context of the following sentence:

"This report gives an overview of x, which took place between the second and final year of my degree from xmonth to ymonth."

Should I be using the word year or years? I'm inclined to choose the latter, as I am referring to two years and not one.


I would go for the singular, and to avoid confusion, I would not omit the definite article after and.

The second and final year gives the impression that you mean one specific year, which was at the same time your second, as well as your final year. For example:

In the fifth and last year of the war, the motivation was dwindling.

Of course, in your sentence, this interpretation is impossible because you use between, but I did get confused at first. Then again, that might be just me. :)

Now, why use the singular in your sentence? If you write it out full, you write:

... between the second year and the last year...

You can shorten that in different ways:

... between the second and the last year...
... between the second year and the last...

There are other options, but I would opt for one of these - and the last one I find most clear. If you include "of my degree", include it then also at the first part:

... between the second year of my degree and the last...


As others have said, there are probably better ways to say it, but as written, your sentence sounds quite wrong to me. I think it should be the plural.

The comparison with "the second year and the last year" supports plural rather than singular. In that "full" version, each occurrence of the word year clearly relates to a single year. The shorter form in your sentence doesn't just involve dropping the first instance of "year"; the remaining year is now referred to by both "second" and "final", becoming plural.

Furthermore, "second and final year" can be misunderstood to be referring to a single year, making it a little less clear on first hearing. Pluralising "years" makes that less of an issue.


In German we actually have a rule for this. It's called Ergänzungsstrich http://www.duden.de/sprachwissen/rechtschreibregeln/bindestrich

But it only applies to nouns that are composites.

In your case you need to use the plural because otherwise you'd be implying that the final year was also your second year.

In my second and final year I did things. <-- NO

(the year that was the second and my final)

In my second and final years I did things. <-- NO

(Ambiguous because it is not clear how many final years there are and if there is a gap between the second and third.)

In my second and the subsequent final year I did things. <-- YES

(More accurate.)

In my second year and the following final year I did stuff. <-- YES



Use years because you're referring to more than one. But as oerkelens states, you could make it singular with "between the second and the final year".

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