I'm making one tarpaulin for my mom, dad and brother and we don’t know which one is correct to say:

  • three-in-one celebrations

  • a three-in-one celebration

In other words, is three-in-one celebration(s) a singular or plural noun phrase?

(We'll write the banner using digits (a) 3 in 1 celebration(s)).

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    Hello Maria. Welcome to English Stack Exchange. If you have any questions, please consult the Help Center. As for your question, proofreading requests are strictly disallowed and must therefore be removed from English Stack Exchange. However, many websites do offer proofreading services, quite a few of which are free to use, and all of which are more than adequate for your needs. – VTH Sep 2 '18 at 7:48
  • A tarpaulin is a kind of waterproof sheet of material, originally cloth such as canvas coated with tar, nowadays it can be some kind of flexible plastic. What has that to do with a celebration? – Michael Harvey Sep 2 '18 at 8:20
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    @VTH This kind of question is most specifically allowed. It is one which has identified the specific concern of the author. In this case it is doubly allowed because it is about grammar. – Araucaria Sep 2 '18 at 8:20
  • What do you mean by "a 3 in 1 celebration"? Can you explain what you want to say? Usually this type of structure is used in statistics but the first number is smaller, e.g "3 in 5 marriages end in divorce." – Mari-Lou A Sep 2 '18 at 8:52
  • @Araucaria Point taken. OP was just being too ambiguous and I seem to have misinterpret this as a proofreading request, somehow. – VTH Sep 2 '18 at 9:08

The term three-in-one is a bit of a red herring. You’d need celebration to agree with the specified number of such celebrations.

  • The tarpaulin was made for a 3-in-1 celebration (singular agreement).

  • The tarpaulin was made for a 3-in-2 celebration (singular agreement).

  • The tarpaulin was made for five 3-in-1 celebrations (plural agreement).

  • Thanks for all ur answer but ur not getting my point. It’s not about the tarpaulin. It’s about the corrrect grammar of the sentence 3 in 1 celebration or celebrations. Which means I have 3 celebrants but in one celebration. – Solnikowski Maria Sep 2 '18 at 8:54
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    "I have 3 celebrants but in one celebration" You answered your own question. – Michael Harvey Sep 2 '18 at 9:03
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    @SolnikowskiMaria The tarpaulin was just a detail. Look at the parts in bold. If you have one celebration (whether "3-in-1" or "anniversary" or "4-in-2" or whatever), it takes singular agreement. If you have multiple celebrations (of whatever kind), it takes plural agreement. – Lawrence Sep 2 '18 at 9:05
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    @SolnikowskiMaria please edit your question and add the necessary clarifications in your question. – Mari-Lou A Sep 2 '18 at 9:47

We would write or say "a three-in-one celebration". If a number (more than one) of items are combined into one thing, then that thing is treated as a singular item. I have combined garlic, lemon and dill into a three-in-one sauce.

Scientists have developed a three-in-one blood test.

A three-in-one maternity bag: handbag, removable tote, and a changing mat in one.

Our male grooming three in one shampoo is suitable for all hair types and it not only cleans but it conditions hair, face and body.

Most style guides advise writing smaller numbers (e.g. less than 11) as words, thus three-in-one and not 3-in-1.

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