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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hyphens


Grammar Rule #6: Hyphens harness compound adjectives to function as a unit.

1. In the context of this rule, compound adjectives are often referred to as phrasal adjectives. Phrasal refers to the fact that two or more adjectives are functioning as a unit instead of as independent words. The hyphen clarifies this unity.

Examples:
Fido is a well fed dog. (He’s fed and healthy—two independent descriptions.)
Fido is a well-fed dog. (He gets plenty of food—one description.)

Johnny is a pink skinned baby. (He’s a skinned baby, poor thing, that is pink—two independent descriptions.)
Johnny is a pink-skinned baby. (His skin is pink rather than another color—one description.)

2. Hyphens are used with phrasal adjectives positioned in front of the noun. Phrasal adjectives positioned after the noun, however, usually don’t require hyphens to clarify that they are a unit.

Examples:
Fido is a dog that is well fed.
Johnny is a baby that is pink skinned.

3. Two exceptions (of course):        
  • A phrasal adjective that begins with an adverb ending in “ly” is not hyphenated because the adverb supplies clarity. 

       Example: a softly spoken word

       However, if more words are added to the phrase, hyphens are        needed to identify the phrase as a unit.

       Example: a not-so-softly-spoken word 

  •   A phrasal adjective that begins with a proper name is not hyphenated because the proper name supplies clarity. 

       Example: the West Point reunion 

TOMORROW: Numbers in phrasal adjectives.

Grammar Challenge: Your Turn! Which words need hyphens?
1. Sam prefers freeze dried coffee to Starbucks. Ick.
2. I have a dark haired daughter and another who is red headed.
3. He owns three frequently mowed lots.
4. Her never clearly enunciated words were hard to understand.
5. The well dressed salesman was successful.
6. We attended our nephew's Kinder Care graduation.
7. Jane works at a video game store to pay off her house that is not debt free.
(Answers are below.)

HYPHEN RULES RUN MONDAY THROUGH SATURDAY THIS WEEK.

Answers:
1. Sam prefers freeze-dried coffee to Starbucks. Ick.
2. I have a dark-haired daughter and another who is red headed.
3. He owns three frequently mowed lots. (no hyphens)
4. Her never-clearly-enunciated words were hard to understand.
5. The well-dressed salesman was successful.
6. We attended our nephew's Kinder Care graduation. (no hyphens)
7. Jane works at a video-game store to pay off her house that is not debt free.

How did you do? Any questions?

3 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Hello Steph,
    I'm really enjoying the lessons on hyphens and I realize that I have a lot to learn! If only I can get my brain to remember what I'm learning.....which leads me to a question....are you going to have a lesson on ellipses? :)

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    Replies
    1. Elaine, I'm glad the lessons are helping. Believe me, I could use some glue for my brain too! I'm tickled to hear your request, and will teach a lesson on ellipses on Monday, May 7. (My plan is to teach punctuation every other week.)

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