Should I use the spelling (and punctuation) 'day-to-day', 'month-to-month', and 'year-to-year' or 'day to day', 'month to month', and 'year to year'?

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    Welcome to EL&U. What has your research turned up? – rajah9 Jun 30 '15 at 17:33

Context is key.

You use hyphens when the compound words are really a single word that don't make sense by themselves. Suppose "month to month" modifies another word, as in:

My lease is up, so now I'm on the month-to-month portion of the contract.

You should hyphenate month-to-month because it becomes an indivisible adjective to describe portion. (You could not say, for example, * month portion of the contract or * month to portion of the contract. You could not say these because the compound words month-to-month are tied together in meaning.)


I'm eking out a meager day-to-day existence.

In contrast, for the sentence

I'm living from day to day.

no hyphens are needed, as there's no word being modified by day to day.

A helpful reference would be the Chicago Manual of Style, and their Table 6.1 ("A spelling guide for compound words.") I'm reading from the ancient and venerable 13th ed.

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