Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Will 2010 Be a New Decade?

Which Years Make Up a Decade?

Believe it or not, it's a contentious question. Most people think of the decade as the years ending '00 through '09 because we usually refer to a decade by those last two numbers--the nineties were 1990 through 1999, for example. The problem is that our calendar didn't start with year zero, and a decade is a 10-year period, so the first decade was years 1 through 10, and counting forward would make this decade 2001 through 2010.

The writers of the Chicago Manual of Style and Garner's Modern American Usage refuse to take a strong stand, but seem to lean toward starting decades with the year '00.

It's possible to make a strong argument that the decade is technically years '01 through '10. However, most people think of a decade as being the 10-year period that starts with the year ending in zero--so that is the best choice because it will convey what you mean to the largest percentage of your readers.


Sources: GG, CMS, GMAU


  1. Love the artwork. I've always been confused about a decade. To me, it just means I'm getting older. It does make sense for a decade to be 1 to 10, instead of 0 to 9.
    Hope you have a safe and Happy New Year.

  2. Happy New Year to you, Crystal!

    It's confusing, isn't it? I've been watching these wrapping-up the decade segments on the news and reading them in the paper...it just doesn't seem like we're quite done with the decade yet, to me.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  3. Wow, what a great way to get my brain working in the morning. I had never thought of that. Thanks for the interesting thought.

  4. Blugh. Another frustrating one. But which do YOU prefer, goddess of grammar?


  5. Interesting indeed. Then again, what really IS a "New Year," hmm? Arbitrary distinctions and naming things, that's how we navigate in this magical journey called life, and trying to write books and communicate, of course, we need set rules and standards. Hey I'll soon be entering my 8th decade! Yup - I was born on Dec 30, 1949, so I've technically lived in the '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, and soon the '10s.

    Little trivia for ya from The Old Silly

    Happy New Year, Crystal! (whatever that is - wink)

  6. Hard enough to believe it's been 10 years since we welcomed the year 2000. I recall the 'controversy' as to whether the new millennium began then or not until 2001.

    And for some of us, it's 5770 as well.

  7. Thanks Mason, Karen, Elizabeth and Marvin for the New Year Wishes!

    Michelle: My personal preference is a decade being the 10-year period that starts with the year ending in zero. :)

  8. It's the same thing that happened when we hit 2000 and people screamed the new millennium didn't start until 2001. The best argument I heard was when you're watching the odometer on your car, what' the big moment? When it rolls over to 100,000 or when it rolls over to 100,001?

    Regardless, every good wish for a wonderful 2010!


  9. I'd have to agree with the 00-09 as a decade. After all, the '70's' were 1970-1979...

  10. Guess I count by tens as well - next year begins a new decade to me.

    And catching the odometer at 123,456 is the biggest moment!

  11. Definitely 1 - 10 but that's because I find the idea of having a year 0 silly.

  12. Just dropping back in to say when you have a chance drop by Thoughts in Progress, I have an award for you.
    Happy New Year.


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