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Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

A Much-Needed Hyphen Tutorial
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Aha! We talked about this before, and I got good advice, but @thatwhichmatter settles it:

HYPHEN? [1/3] Use hyphen to join 2+ words serving as 1 adjective before noun. (chocolate-covered pretzel, much-needed vacation)

HYPHEN? [2/3] But when they (compound modifiers) come after the noun, they’re not hyphenated. (The vacation to Slovenia was much needed.)

HYPHEN? [3/3] Use a hyphen to qualify an upcoming hyphenated phrase. (The parrot is a ten- or eleven-year-old.)

Point [2/3] was still tripping me up. Thanks, @thatwhichmatter!

August 7, 2009 / Uncategorized

4 comments

Slightly complicating point 1, use no hyphen for a compound modifiers that consists of an adverb and an adjective:

“well formed formula”

“much needed vacation”

(There’s no question “much” modifies “needed,” but it’s conceivable one might wonder, without a hyphen, whether the pretzel is both chocolate and covered, or if it is covered in chocolate.)

Further complicating things, there are lots of exceptions:

“grade school students,” not “grade-school students” as the rule would seem to call for.

Condensing grammatical advice into tweet form(ula) is a terrific exercise. It’s essentially what Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style does, which is why that book’s simultaneously so beloved and reviled.

I thought you were supposed to use en dashes for [2/3]?

er, [3/3] that is. I can’t type at all today.

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