Re: Hyphens

Subject: Re: Hyphens
From: Stan Brown <stbrown -at- NACS -dot- NET>
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 1995 23:00:18 -0500

The rule I learned for hyphens is to hyphenate multiword adjectives
when used attributively (before the noun). However, it is important to
distinguish between multiword adjectives (hyphenated) and adjectives
modified by adverbs (not hyphenated). Thus:
The light blue car (not hyphenated: light is an adverb)
The light-seeking missile (hyphenated: two-word adjective)
The missile is light seeking. (not hyphenated: used predicatively)
Big Bad John (not hyphenated: Big and Bad are two adjectives)

Multiword adjerbs are far less frequent. Perhaps the most common error
in usage is with fractions: A hyphen is required in "The cistern is
two-thirds full" where two-thirds is an adverb modifying the adjective
full, but a hyphen would be wrong in "The level is down by two thirds"
where two is an adjective modifying the plural noun thirds.

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