1. Sarita Noel
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    Sarita Noel Member

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    Egg-eating or Egg Eating?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Sarita Noel, Oct 8, 2013.

    Hi all,

    You've been so helpful in the past! I just can't help myself. I'm in the process of re-educating myself on hyphen usage (did I hyphenate that correctly?) and hopefully won't be presenting such basic questions in the future.

    Which leads me to my question.

    Grammarly Handbook says: When using a noun, adjective or adverb and a present participle (a word ending in ‑ing), we often have to put a hyphen between the two words to make it clear as to which word is modifying which.

    I realize that Egg is the noun and Eating is the present participle, so are these examples correct?

    Egg-Eating in the Backyard Flock (my title)

    "...addresses different ways to break the egg-eating habit."

    "Egg-eating is a learned behavior and..."

    I was thinking for a awhile that some of these examples shouldn't have a hyphen, but I believe they all require one. Please tell me I'm on the right track!

    Thanks!
    Sarita
     
  2. graphospasm
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    graphospasm Senior Member

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    I don't think your title should have a hyphen in it. You hyphenate words when they're being used together as a kind of adjective when placed directly in front of a noun. So, "egg-eating habit" is correct because the phrase precedes a noun and acts as an adjective modifying said noun, while "egg-eating is learned" is incorrect because the phrase itself acts as a noun. This was the general rule of thumb when I worked (admittedly briefly) for an editing firm.

    However, it should be noted that there is a great deal of disagreement over the subject of appropriate hyphen usage. Try consulting the Chicago Manual of Style and other style guides to see how usage differs. Heck, some guides (Texas Law Review Manual of Style springs to mind) even go so far as to use hyphens when it will help sentence clarity on a case-by-case basis, clarity coming secondary to a cohesive style.

    I'm sure that others who reply to this forum will have different takes on the subject and that the discussion of such a subject will be a fruitful learning experience for all of us.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I agree with everything graphospasm said.
     
  4. graphospasm
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    graphospasm Senior Member

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    Rereading my post.... Edit: a cohesive style coming secondary to clarity. Whoops! That'll teach me to edit my work... :)
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sorry, graph, but this editor wouldn't let it pass w/o the hyphen... it's needed in the title for same reason it would be in the text... without the hyphen it means an egg is eating something in the backyard...
     
  6. graphospasm
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    graphospasm Senior Member

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    I can see your point. Not sure I agree, but I see where you're coming from. Yay for fruitful discussions!
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Hmm. I'm trying to think of other examples to see if there should be a hyphen or not.

    Kite flying in the backyard...
    Beer drinking in the backyard...

    I guess for the kite example, not having a hyphen means that there is a kite that is flying in the backyard, whereas having a hyphen suggests the actual act of flying kites. So what maia is saying makes sense, although this may be one of those grammar cases where so many people leave out the hyphen that it has become accepted usage.
     
  8. Sarita Noel
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    Sarita Noel Member

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    Took Graphs advice, so I'll let you know what the editors at CC say. Guess it will be an easy fix if they reject it! :)
     
  9. graphospasm
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    graphospasm Senior Member

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    Some of it boils down to common sense. Eggs can't eat so I'm not sure why the lack of hyphen would cause confusion (unless you live inside one of Salvador Dali's paintings, of course). In the end I guess it comes down to what the editor of the piece in question deems confusing and if he values clarity over style or vice versa.

    Good luck on your quest, Sarita Noel!
     
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  10. Sarita Noel
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    Sarita Noel Member

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    So, I Only Hyphenated "egg-Eating Habit" And Left The Others Without Hyphens And CC Accepted It.. Thanks For The Help Everyone (And Sorry About The Caps, My Phone Is Being Obnoxious!)
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    not 'accepted usage' for the professional editors working for reputable publishing venues, nor grammar 'authorities'...

    sarital... what is 'CC'?
     
  12. Sarita Noel
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    Sarita Noel Member

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    Hi, CC is Constant Content. They have pretty strict editing standards, in my experience.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    they're not agents or publishers... nor are they being paid to be good editors... they just list your work to be bid on, by venues needing copy... a freelance writing version of ebay...

    if you want to sell your writings, you'll have to be a good editor on your own and make sure you're putting it out there perfectly polished and free of any goofs...

    and the term 'egg eating' without the hyphen, in the title, or in the text is incorrect as you've used it... period... for the reasons i gave above...
     
  14. Sarita Noel
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    Sarita Noel Member

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    Mammamaia,

    Thank you for your thoughts. I've been polishing my editing and writing skills as much as I have time for, and I'd like to think I've become a better writer by writing for CC simply because they don't accept a lot of the garbage that most other content mills do and have a they have a higher rejection rate on articles. As I understand you, my use of the hyphens may be wrong but when I was doing the research, I found that there seems to be wiggle room when it comes to some of the rules regarding hyphen usage. A bit frustrating. :(
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    while hyphenating some words may be optional, this is not one of them... i agree sorting out the 'must's from the 'can's in hyphenation may be frustrating...
     

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