1. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Hyphenations

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lostinwebspace, Apr 1, 2011.

    Hello all,

    I've been recently sharpening up on my compound words and still have some questions regarding what to hyphenate. Most of

    these are compound adjectives, and the confusion comes from having to hyphenate before or after a noun. I'd love to be able to do the same to the compound no matter where it appears in the sentence--and indeed, some guides say it's not great but okay--but I want to do what's most accepted.

    * Is it "law-enforcement agency" or "law enforcement agency"?
    * "solar-powered" or "solar powered" (as in "Is it solar-powered?", an adjective that appears after the noun)
    * "no-go" or "no go" (as in "We're a no-go.")
    * "hearty butt-kicking" or "hearty butt kicking"
    * "second-stringer" or "second stringer"
    * "Everything you do is high profile" or "... high-profile"
    * "it's located off-screen" or "it's located off screen"
    * when is eye-to-eye hyphenated?
    * "photo negative paint scheme" or "photo-negative..."
    * "all-but-inconsequential man" or "all but inconsequential man"
    * "arts and crafts" or "arts-and-crafts"
    * "hostage-situation training" or "hostage situation training"
    * "the computer is password-protected" or "the computer is password protected"?
    * "They touched back-to-back" or "... back to back"
    * "This car is American-made" or "... American made"
    * "These offices are well-guarded" or "... well guarded"
    * "He struggled wide-eyed" or "... wide eyed"
    * "This has come full-circle" or "... full circle"
    * "The candy was peanut butter-flavored" or "... peanut butter flavored"
    * "The insect was green-skinned" or "... green skinned"
    * "The pizza was a triple-onion special" or "... triple-onion special" (never mind that triple the onions on a pizza would probably be disgusting)
    * "He couldn't handle the pencil-pushing" or "... pencil pushing"
    * "coffee-cake-flavored ice cream" or "coffee cake-flavored ice cream"

    What's the general rule about hyphenating words to the prefix "half" and complex fractions "one point one, zero point zero three"? I don't want to use numerals for these because they appear at the end of a sentence, and putting "1.1. or 0.03." just looks troublesome.

    I'm not really looking for workarounds for these rules because I need to learn them, and a workaround is just ignoring the issue for me.

    As side notes (not hyphenations):
    * Is the word "senor" italicized in English or has it been sufficiently adopted into our language that we can use regular typeface?
    * Same with "au contraire." Is it italicized or is it adopted into English?
    * Do we use a comma for "oh boy," "oh geez," etc. as in "Oh, boy"?
     
  2. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know where you are, but in England we tend to use them more, and also I'm going off ear, so take this with a pinch of salt, but I would:

    * Is it "law-enforcement agency" or "law enforcement agency"? because when talking about law enforcement in other contexts you wouldn't


    * "solar-powered" or "solar powered" (as in "Is it solar-powered?", an adjective that appears after the noun) <-- These two words need each other very closely. Hyphen.


    * "no-go" or "no go" (as in "We're a no-go.") <-- again, the two words are dependant on each other.


    * "hearty butt-kicking" or "hearty butt kicking" <-- ditto


    * "second-stringer" or "second stringer" <-- don't know what this is, but I'd probably not hyphenate from the context I can imagine. Imagining it as an action applied as a name as with Law Enforcement, I'd say no.


    * "Everything you do is high profile" or "... high-profile" <-- definitely.



    * "it's located off-screen" or "it's located off screen" <-- probably, but mostly in this sort of context.

    * when is eye-to-eye hyphenated? <--- not "do we see eye to eye on this?" as a phrase, maybe as a description of place, like, "they were eye-to-eye", but it'd do no harm to leave it out.


    * "photo negative paint scheme" or "photo-negative..." <-- Probably, since it's a lot of words, and if those 2 are meant to be together it neatens it up and explains the way it should be read.


    * "all-but-inconsequential man" or "all but inconsequential man" <-- assuming it's a label someone is specifically applying to someone else, and not just in narrative. Unless it's a chatty, user-friendly narrative.


    * "arts and crafts" or "arts-and-crafts"


    * "hostage-situation training" or "hostage situation training" <-- probably easiest just to go with that - someone may raise an eyebrow.


    * "the computer is password-protected" or "the computer is password protected"? <-- I think either goes, honestly. Be consistent. :p


    * "They touched back-to-back" or "... back to back" <-- like eye to eye, not imperative to do it, but can do no harm.



    * "This car is American-made" or "... American made"


    * "These offices are well-guarded" or "... well guarded"


    * "He struggled wide-eyed" or "... wide eyed"


    * "This has come full-circle" or "... full circle"

    All good examples of when to use a hyphen. :)


    * "The candy was peanut butter-flavored" or "... peanut butter flavored" <-- as a personal preference, no, because peanut butter is 2 words and the hypen puts t emphasis on "butter-flavoured" making a very odd sentence.l


    * "The insect was green-skinned" or "... green skinned"

    * "The pizza was a triple-onion special" or "... triple-onion special" (never mind that triple the onions on a pizza would probably be disgusting)


    * "He couldn't handle the pencil-pushing" or "... pencil pushing"

    * "coffee-cake-flavored ice cream" or "coffee cake-flavored ice cream" <-- going back to peanut butter, this gets rid of the ambiguity, but looks clunky. Coffee cake flavoured.

    What's the general rule about hyphenating words to the prefix "half" and complex fractions "one point one, zero point zero

    three"? I don't want to use numerals for these because they appear at the end of a sentence, and putting "1.1. or 0.03." just looks troublesome.

    I'm not really looking for workarounds for these rules because I need to learn them, and a workaround is just ignoring the issue for me.

    As side notes (not hyphenations):
    * Is the word "senor" italicized in English or has it been sufficiently adopted into our language that we can use regular

    typeface?
    * Same with "au contraire." Is it italicized or is it adopted into English?
    * Do we use a comma for "oh boy," "oh geez," etc. as in "Oh, boy"?
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    "law enforcement agency"?

    * "solar-powered" or "solar powered" [can be either]

    "We're a no-go."

    "hearty butt-kicking"

    "second-stringer"

    high profile" or "... high-profile" [can be either, depending on context]

    off-screen

    when is eye-to-eye hyphenated? [most of the time]

    photo-negative

    all-but-inconsequential man

    arts and crafts

    hostage-situation training

    "the computer is password-protected" or "the computer is password protected"? [either]

    "They touched back-to-back" or "... back to back" [either, in this context]

    "This car is American-made" or "... American made" [latter, in this wording... former, if car comes after it]

    "These offices are well-guarded" or "... well guarded" [reverse of above re 'offices]

    "He struggled wide-eyed"

    full circle

    "The candy was peanut butter-flavored"

    "The insect was green-skinned"

    "He couldn't handle the pencil-pushing"

    "coffee cake-flavored ice cream"

    ...any of the above could be disputed, imo... and a lot depends on the context, so without full sentences, it's hard to render a valid verdict...

    ...use of hyphen for 'half' and such depends on the context... and i don't see any reason to hyphenate those numbers, though ones like 'twenty-four' do call for it...

    ...still needs italics as a word, though not as a title...

    Same with "au contraire." Is it italicized or is it adopted into English?
    ...i'd italicize it, but that might be optional... and also depend on the context...

    ...we should...
     
  4. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some words, in British English anyway, are correct with or without a hyphen, like: ice-cream / ice cream. Like we've said, we use hyphens fairly often.
    Sometimes a hyphen is needed for clarity:
    A used-car saleswoman = a woman who sells used cars - It's the cars, not the woman, that are used!
    Or when you are making a group of words act as an adjective or adverb, like:
    He was a sweet four-year-old child. / She strove single-mindedly.
     
  5. Finhorn
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    Finhorn Senior Member

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    The rule of thumb, as I understand it, is that hyphenated words only have to be hyphenated when it would change the meaning not to hyphenate. Every year when the bigwigs revise grammar the question they ask themselves is "What punctuation makes this clearest?"

    So you look at the pair that you think need's hyphenating and first check to see if it's a phrase (like no-go or pencil-pusher). Phrases always get hyphenated and over the years combine to become one word (for example, bigwig).

    The rest are done case by case. That's why the grammar books, and experts, don't always agree. Lets look at a few:
    second-string - together they mean someone who plays if the lead is out. Separately there are two strings. Because it's not close, it needs hyphenated.
    Butter-flavor - tastes of butter; tastes like butter - close enough so no hyphen.
    green-skin - having green skin; green looking skin - close enough.
    triple-onion - three times the normal amount of onion - three onions - usually close enough

    Now once in a sentence. The one I've got is this: Joe saw the man lying in the rocks. His green(-)skin drooped on his bones. -- This sentence is the only clue we have as to whether his skin is naturally green (because he's an alien) or mold is eating him because he's dead.

    An alien would need a hyphen to be correct. Otherwise the sentence leaves us to assume that something is causing the skin to look green. Most people would still leave the hyphen out and clarify in the next line of text.

    English students debate back and forth as to whether this is because writers are ignorant or because they are lazy. I've never heard of a reader bothered by it.


    PS - I love madhoca's answer. Same as mine in a lot less words. If you really want to see traditional punctuation being corrupted by lazy writers and thrifty typesetters, look up the rules for using a comma in a list. It doesn't have to come before the 'and' anymore. I like cows, chickens, dogs and rabbits. - I've never met an English teacher however who doesn't still require that last comma for clarity.
     
  6. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    Great post! I am always struggling with hyphens between words - indeed, I overdo it.

    To me this is nonsense. Green is an attribute to skin, so no hyphen. I would take "green-skin" as a kind of fantasy name for his suit (like some kind of body-warmer).

    My leading principle, but throw it out immediately because I am non-native English, is that reading should take the least possible energy from the reader to understand what the writer intends to convey. So I write high-pressure equipment (because the equipment is not high, but the pressure is), body-warmer because it is a "one word noun" (or bodywarmer without a space, which my grammar checker signals as wrong!); a space ("body warmer") gives a slight hick-up while reading because it may not be immediately apparent that both should be taken together - it's a piece of cloth. That's why a four-year-old boy is a good example of correctly using hyphens: it makes immediately clear what belongs together and should be taken as one word. A writer doesn't want readers to decode it before they understand what has been written.

    The comma example: I follow the same rule of the easiest to absorb. The comma before and makes the separation of the issues clear. Suppose the list is "dog, cat, mice with gray skin and stripes, and lion"? The comma separates the list naturally.
     
  7. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    I have.
    This is how I was taught in England in 50/60's.
    I like cows, chickens , dogs and rabbits.
    The reason being, the comma replaces the and.
    I like cows and chickens and dog and rabbits.
    Nothing to do with laziness, just another view.
     
  8. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^^ That's how I was taught by English teachers in British army schools in the 60s, too!
     
  9. Finhorn
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    Finhorn Senior Member

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    lol That's good to know. I've got a "how to teach grammar" class this semester and it's killing me. I wish English would quit changing what is "proper."
     
  10. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Thanks everyone for the clarifications. I have some other concerns about hyphenations. Could someone explain if I should hyphenate these and what the logic is behind your explanation?

    1. Do we hyphenate numbers with fractions? I now know with decimals we don't, but what I mean is "eight-and-a-half," "four-and-a-quarter," etc. I'd imagine we do as adjectives, such as "The pillar was eight-and-a-half feet tall", but not as a noun, as in "There are eight and a half."

    2. Do we hyphenate 360 degrees when we refer to it as a "three-sixty"? The context in this case is "He turned in a three-sixty", so it's a noun. I'd imagine I'd hyphenate in the case of an adjective, though.

    3. Here's the weirdest one. We are supposed to close all prefixes (and suffixes) to their words (except in certain situations for clarity). The Chicago Style Guide says "Compounds formed with prefixes are normally closed, whether hey are nouns, verbs, adjectives, or adverbs." It goes on to list exceptions to this rule, but those exceptions are when the noun is capitalized (pre-Vietnam War"), when the last letter of the prefix is the same as the first letter of the noun ("anti-intellectual"), or if the closed compound is actually a word itself ("re-cover" vs. "recover").

    But... really? We close all prefixes that don't fall within these exceptions? I have some words in here that would make very weird closed compounds: nonlatent, midstep, semiparalysis, preactivate, subscholary, underinform, overequip, nonspontaneous, semigesture, nonovercharged, roomwide, nonaerodynamic, prechew, nonmedicated, midmonth, miniputt, et cetera. These look really weird as closed compounds. What the heck...? (And I've checked Merriam-Webster. These words don't exist, which is quite surprising in the case of underinform and miniputt). I write comedy, so some of my compounds are downright off the wall (I hope), but don't seem right as a closed compound.

    The logic here is that these prefixes aren't standalone words, and since hyphenating implies that both parts of the hyphenated compound are words, we close these compounds (unless they fall within one of the exceptions), but it just seems wrong to be able to coin a new temporary compound whenever we want. I can just make up a word whenever I want as long as I use a prefix? I'm quite confident in whatever the Chicago Style Guide tells me, but this rule seems odd.

    I love the English language, but hyphenation is archnemesis. There. I just coined a word.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...i certainly might, for the former... but i don't understand what you mean by a 'noun' in the latter example...

    ...yes, for 'did a three-sixty' or 'did a one-eighty' though 'turned in' doesn't work with that, imo... but i don't get what you mean by 'adjective'...

    ... i wouldn't say so, since there are exceptions to most rules...

    ...the cms [if what you're referring to is the 'chicago manual of style'] is not a set of stone tablets etched with rules one must follow or fall afoul of some god-figure that may or may not be a figment of man's imagination... it's simply one single guidebook among many... and not the be all and end all of english grammar rules 'n regs...

    ...would have to be 'an' archnemesis to make sense... but the 'rules' say it has to be hyphenated! ;)
     
  12. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    I meant nounal phrase, but I often confuse myself. In the second example, "eight and a half" is a nounal phrase (right? Pretty please right? :confused:). Anyway, what you're saying is to hyphenate it when it's an adjective, but not a nounal phrase. Am I correct?

    What I mean by adjective is in not in the case I cited, but in a case where I would use it as an adjective: "a three-sixty rotation," though, in this example, I guess "rotation" is redundant.

    Yes, the Chicago Manual of Style. You put my mind a little at ease. I was fretting a little about going through and making sure my prefixes were closed, but if agents and publishers are lenient about this sort of thing, I can breathe more easily. I pictured an agent (in this case a grammar Nazi) sitting at his desk looking for any reason to throw my work into the slush pile. That image made this rule something I had to follow no matter what. So if these prefixes can be hyphenated, that would give me a little more peace since, quite frankly, some of these closed compounds looked ugly. I guess I'll try to follow the Chicago Manual of Style whenever I absolutely can and ignore it during those times that my instinct tells me not to. (I did see examples of places in books where these prefixes were hyphenated. Google Books. I've learned to love their search tool.) I do think I should learn and follow its guidelines on regular compounds.

    Is there an instance where a word might not exist in the case of prefixes but you would make it a closed compound instead of a hyphenated one? I still would think things such as "antifog," "minimall," "roomwide" (yup, a suffix), and "miniputt" (which are all words in my manuscript) should be closed, but I'm not opposed to hyphenating them. They seem common enough. I guess they haven't quite made the evolution yet.

    I actually meant "my archnemesis," but I forgot a word. :)
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'd never heard of a 'nounal phrase' but it seems to be something, per a google search and yes, that seems to be one... as for if it should be hyphenated, i'd have to see how you'd use it in a sentence that way, to know what would work best...

    yes, adding 'rotation' would be roundly redundant... ;-)

    re the cms, if you're writing fiction, i'd put that away and stick to just a good dictionary, your s&w, and a good punctuation guide...

    i wouldn't advise using those words you've coined, as they don't make much sense to me... can't see any good reason to combine words that way... plus, some could pose a meaning problem... 'minimall' could be taken for a typo of 'minimal' for instance...

    my best advice is for you to save your desire to be 'different' till you're successful enough to get away with it...

    meanwhile, do your best to follow the ironclad rules and don't waste time worrying over the optionals... exceptional writing/stories will sell, despite small glitches here and there...
     
  14. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Generally, use a good dictionary, because rules are not all that dependable. But here's what the Oxford Style Guide says for UK usage:
    • Compound modifiers after a noun don't need a hyphen ("A table of stainless steel");
    • Hyphenate two or more modifiers before a noun if they form a unit ("A stainless-steel table");
    • Don't hyphenate if the first modifier modifies the whole noun phrase that follows ("A stainless steel table" is a steel table that has no stains. "A stainless-steel table" is a table made of stainless steel). It used to be the case in British English that the noun phrases themselves would be hyphenated ("A stainless steel-table"), but that's now seen as archaic;
    • Don't hyphenate adjectival compounds beginning with adverbs ending in -ly ("Happily married couple");
    • Do not hyphenate italicised foreign phrases unless hypenated in the original language;
    • Do not hyphenate capitalized words ("British Museum staff");
    • Special rules apply in scientific and technical contexts.
    So:
    "law-enforcement agency"
    "Is it solar powered?"
    "We're a no-go." (implied "situation").
    "hearty butt kicking"
    "second-stringer" (by parallel with "second-rate", which the OSM gives as hyphenated)
    "Everything you do is high profile"
    "it's located off screen"
    "when is eye-to-eye hyphenated?" When it's before a noun that it modifies.
    "photo-negative paint scheme"
    "all-but-inconsequential man"
    "arts and crafts" (unless referring to the movement, in which case "Arts and Crafts")
    "hostage-situation training"
    "the computer is password protected"
    "They touched back to back"
    "This car is American made"
    "These offices are well guarded"
    "He struggled wide eyed"
    "This has come full circle"
    "The candy was peanut butter flavored" (although I'm applying British rules so that would be "flavoured")
    "The insect was green skinned"
    "The pizza was a triple-onion special"
    "He couldn't handle the pencil pushing"
    "coffee-cake-flavored ice cream"
    Hyphens in spelled out numbers from 21 through 99. Hyphens in fractions unless the numerator and denominator both contain hyphens.
    Regular according to OSM.
    Italics according to OSM.
    I can't find a rule, and even the name of the Buddy Holly hit seems to be reported inconsistently.
     
  15. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Can English have more than one arch-nemesis? :D
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the thing is, 'archenemy' flows well, as a single word, since the second word begins with a vowel and follows the 'ch' sound nicely, without any pause...

    but 'nemesis' doesn't do this, beginning as it does with a consonant... thus, the separation which produces a brief pause when read/spoken is necessary...

    now, if you wanted to coin an unhyphenated word without the 'n'...............

    'archemesis' anyone? ;-)
     
  17. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    A few others I'm still confused about. Sorry for there being so many.

    * robot-slash-android (I'd like to keep it this way instead of "robot/android" because it's a part of dialog and the character is actually using the word "slash"). This is used as a noun.
    * "I'd love a ham-and-cheese sandwich." (or any compound adjective with "and")
    * "We're on a first-come-first-served basis." (or is it "first-come, first-served basis"? Or... what?)
    * "We have a large group of less-than-qualified soldiers."
    * "He wore his green- and white-striped shirt." (or is this green-and-white-striped?)
    * "His car was ground-based."
    * "He's playing you in a movie-of-the-week."
    * "Their favorite act was the sword-and-flaming-chainsaw duo." (I guess my question is, since "flaming chainsaw" is itself a noun with an adjective, should that be hyphenated with the rest of the phrase?)
    * chocolate-chip muffin
    * clown-car horn
    * "The manager is off-site."
    * "He often made cured-ham-and-cheese sandwiches." (same as the circus duo: should "cured ham" be hyphenated?)
    * "He wore his favorite blue-and-white shirt." (I know common color expressions such as black-and-white are hyphenated, but what about any color combination?)
    * "He let off that silent-but-deadly smell."
    * "I'll take a double-scoop cone."
    * "When the car peeled away, they smelled that burning-rubber reek of tires."
    * "He hammered a double-fist against the door."
    * shell-shocked (verb), shell shock ward (adjective). I know it's an open compound as a noun. Not sure about verbs or adjectives.
    * half-off sale
    * "It's printed with black-on-white text." (or any "on" phrase)
    * "He hated the dusty sports-card bubblegum."
    * "She exercises by doing deep-knee bends."
    * "These name-brand products aren't as cheap as they should be."
    * "He has ventriloquist-dummy eyes."
    * "The doughnut is jelly-filled."
    * "One. Two. Two-and-a-half."
    * "This is a no-smoking restaurant."
    * "He equips himself with the dog-pooper-and-scooper."
    * "He stands hunch-backed."
    * "The bullet-hole damage has devalued the police car."
    * "He threw his pipe cleaner body into the couch."
    * "He thought he was oh-so-intelligently superior."
    * "I need to purchase double-A batteries."
    * "The left tail-wing peeled off."
    * "He cracked his sheet-white knuckles."
    * "My near-death experience has changed me."
    * "He hid his shadow-black form."
    * "He marched his two hundred-pound stride."
    * "The lawn lit in a scorched-grass tapestry."
    * "The plane accelerated to near-takeoff speed."
    * "He faced off against the Nazi pride-mongers."
    * "He hated those corporate suit-and-ties." (And should this be "suits-and-ties"?)
    * "She puckered her crimson-lipstick mouth."
    * "Red-faced, he screamed."
    * "That senile prune-lady was still sleeping."
    * "He eyed the scalp-cutter."

    Sorry about having so many. The rules are sometimes confusing even if they're broken down. In case it matters, I'm looking for the U.S. standards.
     
  18. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ok, I'm doing this off the top of my head because there are too many to keep looking up! So don't take these as gospel. And I'm a Brit, so US usage might not be the same.
    * robot-slash-android (I'd like to keep it this way instead of "robot/android"
    I doubt there's a standard, but I'd go with what you've done.
    * "I'd love a ham-and-cheese sandwich." If you omit the hyphen I suppose technically a risk that it could be interpreted as wanting a ham and wanting a cheese sandwich, so it's safer to keep the hyphen.
    * "We're on a first-come-first-served basis." (or is it "first-come, first-served basis"? Or... what?)
    First-come, first-served.
    * "We have a large group of less-than-qualified soldiers."
    Yes.
    * "He wore his green- and white-striped shirt." (or is this green-and-white-striped?)
    "He wore his green and white striped shirt". The green stripes and the white stripes are not a single unit! And there's no ambiguity.
    * "His car was ground-based."
    "ground based"
    * "He's playing you in a movie-of-the-week."
    I think the Oxford rule would be "movie of the week", but I like your version better.
    * "Their favorite act was the sword-and-flaming-chainsaw duo."
    Yes.
    * chocolate-chip muffin
    Yes.
    * clown-car horn
    Yes.
    * "The manager is off-site."
    Check your dictionary of choice.
    * "He often made cured-ham-and-cheese sandwiches."
    Technically yes, but it's getting ugly so I'd be inclined to rewrite: "He often made sandwiches of cured ham and cheese".
    * "He wore his favorite blue-and-white shirt." (I know common color expressions such as black-and-white are hyphenated, but what about any color combination?)
    Hyphenating black-and-white is news to me, unless it's describing the class of thing rather than the actual colour (a black-and-white television might have a mahogany case, a black and white television might be a colour television with a chessboard-pattern case). So I'd go for "He wore his favorite blue and white shirt."
    * "He let off that silent-but-deadly smell."
    Yes.
    * "I'll take a double-scoop cone."
    Yes.
    * "When the car peeled away, they smelled that burning-rubber reek of tires."
    Yes.
    * "He hammered a double-fist against the door."
    I don't know the expression "double fist". Do you mean "He hammered both fists against the door"?
    * shell-shocked (verb), shell shock ward (adjective). I know it's an open compound as a noun. Not sure about verbs or adjectives.
    Because it's open as a noun I'd keep it open as a verb: "shell shocked". But because of the usual rules I'd hyphenate it when it premodifies the noun: "shell-shock ward".
    * half-off sale
    Yes.
    * "It's printed with black-on-white text."
    Yes.
    * "He hated the dusty sports-card bubblegum."
    Yes.
    * "She exercises by doing deep-knee bends."
    Most people have both knees at the same height (or depth). "deep knee bends" or perhaps "deep knee-bends" (check your dictionary of choice).
    * "These name-brand products aren't as cheap as they should be."
    Yes.
    * "He has ventriloquist-dummy eyes."
    Yes.
    * "The doughnut is jelly-filled."
    "Jelly filled".
    * "One. Two. Two-and-a-half."
    Yes.
    * "This is a no-smoking restaurant."
    Yes.
    * "He equips himself with the dog-pooper-and-scooper."
    My instinct is to say "check your dictionary of choice", but it's not likely to be in there, so you're on your own. But is there any other sort of pooper-and-scooper? I think you could drop the "dog", which helps a bit.
    * "He stands hunch-backed."
    Hunchbacked.
    * "The bullet-hole damage has devalued the police car."
    Yes.
    * "He threw his pipe cleaner body into the couch."
    Pipe-cleaner
    * "He thought he was oh-so-intelligently superior."
    Yes
    * "I need to purchase double-A batteries."
    Yes.
    * "The left tail-wing peeled off."
    Yes.
    * "He cracked his sheet-white knuckles."
    Yes.
    * "My near-death experience has changed me."
    Yes.
    * "He hid his shadow-black form."
    Yes.
    * "He marched his two hundred-pound stride."
    I think you'd have to go for "two-hundred-pound" even though "two hundred" wouldn't normally be hyphenated.
    * "The lawn lit in a scorched-grass tapestry."
    Yes.
    * "The plane accelerated to near-takeoff speed."
    Yes.
    * "He faced off against the Nazi pride-mongers."
    I don't know of a rule to decide between "pride-mongers" and "pridemongers". Check your dictionary of choice. If it's not there, go for the hyphen.
    * "He hated those corporate suit-and-ties."
    Yes ("Suit-and-tie" is treated as a noun in its own right, so not "suits-and-ties".)
    * "She puckered her crimson-lipstick mouth."
    Yes.
    * "Red-faced, he screamed."
    Yes.
    * "That senile prune-lady was still sleeping."
    What is a prune-lady?
    * "He eyed the scalp-cutter."
    Check your dictionary of choice. If it's not there, "scalp cutter".
     
  19. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Thanks for the help, digitig. You're always one we can count on here for a quick answer. Here are some clarifications and further questions.

    What I mean here is that, since green-striped and white-striped would be hyphenated (am I right?) that I should hyphenate this as "green-striped and white-striped" or "green- and white-striped." Or am I still off-base?

    I found a construction where I said "green-and-white walls." I kept the dashes in so that there's no confusion that I meant walls that are white and green or walls that are white with walls that are green. That should be fine, right?

    I checked Wikipedia, which, mind you, isn't the best source, but since my dictionary of choice doesn't define this, I had to resort to something. Wikipedia spells it out with spaces. Weird, since a movie of the week is a thing, not a movie which happens to be on this week. I'm almost inclined to break that rule here since a movie of the week is a single noun, not a noun/preposition/article/noun.

    Stupid me. I should have checked there first. And it's hyphenated. How about other constructions: off-station, off-base (not as in "he was way off base," but as in "he couldn't be found on the base"), etc. I know "off-station" could be treated as one unit or as a way of saying "off the station." Dunno.

    I know it's awkward phrasing, and if you have a better way, then I'm all ears. But, as opposed to hammering both fists, I mean to say that he balled his fists together and used them as one single attack.

    I'm almost hesitant to do this. I'd say as an adjective to hyphenate, but wouldn't it be spaced out as a noun? After all, we don't say "two-dogs-and-a-cat." Then again, two dogs and a cat isn't exactly a unit like 2.5 is.

    I guess you're right. I was imagining people who would walk different animals (I know some who walk their cats :confused: And I'd imagine people in other countries would walk exotic animals. After all, I've seen weird cases of zookeepers and Marineland performers walking alligators) so I was inclined to include "dog." Just for future reference, in case I ever have to make a construction like this, should I put that first hyphen in ("dog-pooper-and-scooper") or leave it out ("dog pooper-and-scooper"). Typing it, I'd almost leave it out, since the first one sounds like the tool poops and then scoops a dog, not its excrement. Then again, the latter leaves the same impression with me.

    Is this true of any "double" construction? "His dive was a double flip," "a double-flip dive," "triple... quatruple..." etc?

    I'm guessing if the construction appears after the noun, then it's open, right? As in "The plane's speed was near takeoff." Just for future reference.

    Yeah, I guess it might be confusing the way I phrased it. I rephrased it in my story, but in case I have to make a similar construction (one that makes more sense), what I meant was an old lady who is wrinkled (likening her wrinkles to a prune's). Would I use the hyphen in a case like this construction?
     
  20. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Whether it's right or not is another matter, but at least speed is something ;)
    Well -- my thinking there would be that if it's striped then there must be at least two colours. If they're both green (different shades) then it's a green shirt and a striped shirt, so "green striped shirt" (or optionally "green, striped shirt") would be ok. This one is a green and white shirt, and it's a striped shirt, so it's a "green and white striped shirt" (or optionally a "green and white, striped shirt"). Admittedly I don't have any formal style rule for that: I'm using logic, which is always risky with English. Because after all, you go on to give the example...
    There I think you need the hyphen to avoid that ambiguity. So if in the earlier example you had more than one shirt it would be "green-and-white striped shirts". That would be a case for hyphenating even if there's only one shirt (yes, I'm thinking as I type here.) But apply that to your black-and-white televisions case and you can't win: if you have televisions that are black and televisions that are white, "black and white televisions" and "black-and-white televisions" are both misleading.
    It is a movie. What sort of movie? The one of the week. Compare with "I drove into the car of the woman next door." Surely it's not "car-of-the-woman-next-door"?
    And off-site means off the site. In the absence of a rule (I can't find a rule) or a dictionary entry then I'd follow the example of off-site and hyphenate.
    Ah, I see. In that case I would go for "double-fist" until I came up with a better phrasing (which would probably be "He balled both fists together and hammered them against the door." :) )
    Ok, I looked it up. According to the OSM, hyphenate spelled-out numbers from twenty-one through ninety-nine and fractions unless the numerator and denominator already contains a hyphen. Big help. From the examples, they don't mean "numerator" and "denominator" and they mean "or" not "and". "A half" isn't hyphenated, but if I then apply the rule I get "two-and-a-half" in which case the "a-half" is now hyphenated so I need to lose the earlier hyphens so we have "two and a-half" which is ridiculous. Unless you can find a style guide with better advice (in which case let me know and I'll start doing it their way!) you might as well stick with what you've worked out.
    But do they have different pooper-and-scoopers? I'm probably not the best person to ask, because in the UK we just call them "pooper-scoopers", (even though they scoop poop, not the pooper -- what did I say earlier about logic and English? The US version has a similar issue) which is definitely hyphenated. "Pooper-and-scooper" should probably be similarly hyphenated, not least because of that issue: without the hyphen it would be something that poops, as you spot below.
    I'd leave it out, and I'd say the difference between a "dog pooper and scooper" and a "dog pooper-and-scooper" was that the former pooped and scooped dogs, the latter is a pooper and scooper for dogs. If I were being really pedantic I'd say that it isn't actually a dog pooper-and-scooper, it's a dog poop pooper-and-scooper.
    No, it's a check-with-your-dictionary-of-choice situation. (See what I did there?) For example, the OMS says "double boiler", "double bass", "double cream" but "double-cross", "double-dealer", "double-decker".
    That's what the rule would give me, but I think it's ugly so I'd rephrase. Incidentally, the OSM informs me that UK usage is "take-off" but that US usage is indeed "takeoff". Which is why it looked odd to me but was nevertheless correct. :)
    I'd go for "prune-like lady".
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...the following are my opinions based on decades of reading/writing/studying grammar/editing/mentoring/tutoring:

    * robot-slash-android (I'd like to keep it this way instead of "robot/android" because it's a part of dialog and the character is actually using the word "slash"). This is used as a noun
    ...ok...

    * "I'd love a ham-and-cheese sandwich." (or any compound adjective with "and")
    ...not ok [= no hyphens should be used there]

    * "We're on a first-come-first-served basis." (or is it "first-come, first-served basis"? Or... what?)
    ...the second example is correct...

    * "We have a large group of less-than-qualified soldiers."
    ...optional...

    * "He wore his green- and white-striped shirt." (or is this green-and-white-striped?)
    ...only 1 hyphen... goes before 'striped'...

    * "His car was ground-based."
    ...ok...

    * "He's playing you in a movie-of-the-week."
    ...ok...

    * "Their favorite act was the sword-and-flaming-chainsaw duo." (I guess my question is, since "flaming chainsaw" is itself a noun with an adjective, should that be hyphenated with the rest of the phrase?)
    ...yes, if you hyphenate any of it, though that's optional...

    * chocolate-chip muffin
    ...no hyphen...

    * clown-car horn
    ...no hyphen...

    * "The manager is off-site."
    ...ok...

    * "He often made cured-ham-and-cheese sandwiches." (same as the circus duo: should "cured ham" be hyphenated?)
    ...none of it should be...

    * "He wore his favorite blue-and-white shirt." (I know common color expressions such as black-and-white are hyphenated, but what about any color combination?)
    ...optional...

    * "He let off that silent-but-deadly smell."
    ...ok...

    * "I'll take a double-scoop cone."
    ...ok...

    * "When the car peeled away, they smelled that burning-rubber reek of tires."
    ...not ok...

    * "He hammered a double-fist against the door."
    ...not ok...

    * shell-shocked (verb), shell shock ward (adjective). I know it's an open compound as a noun. Not sure about verbs or adjectives.
    ...optional...

    * half-off sale
    ...ok...

    * "It's printed with black-on-white text." (or any "on" phrase)
    ...ok...

    * "He hated the dusty sports-card bubblegum."
    ...not ok...

    * "She exercises by doing deep-knee bends."
    ...not ok...

    * "These name-brand products aren't as cheap as they should be."
    ...optional...

    * "He has ventriloquist-dummy eyes."
    ...not ok...

    * "The doughnut is jelly-filled."
    ...ok...

    * "One. Two. Two-and-a-half."
    ...ok...

    * "This is a no-smoking restaurant."
    ...ok...

    * "He equips himself with the dog-pooper-and-scooper."
    ...not ok... 'pooper-scooper' could be...

    * "He stands hunch-backed."
    ...it's one word, not two...

    * "The bullet-hole damage has devalued the police car."
    ...not ok...

    * "He threw his pipe cleaner body into the couch."
    ...?... if you meant 'pipe-cleaner' no hyphen is needed...

    * "He thought he was oh-so-intelligently superior."
    ...optional depending on context... otherwise, 'oh, so intelligently superior'

    * "I need to purchase double-A batteries."
    ...ok...

    * "The left tail-wing peeled off."
    ...not ok...

    * "He cracked his sheet-white knuckles."
    ...ok...

    * "My near-death experience has changed me."
    ...ok...

    * "He hid his shadow-black form."
    ...ok...

    * "He marched his two hundred-pound stride."
    ...makes no sense, but 'two-hundred-pound' could be hyphenated like that...

    * "The lawn lit in a scorched-grass tapestry."
    ...not ok...

    * "The plane accelerated to near-takeoff speed."
    ...ok...

    * "He faced off against the Nazi pride-mongers."
    ...since 'hatemonger' is one word, so would this be...

    * "He hated those corporate suit-and-ties." (And should this be "suits-and-ties"?)
    ...depends on what you mean... if a substitue for 'people' it can be hyphenated, but plural only on the end, since it means 'guy/guys'... but i'd put it in " " to show it's a sort of slang/jargon term...

    * "She puckered her crimson-lipstick mouth."
    ...makes no sense... if you meant 'crimson-lipsticked' it would be hyphenated, but not very good wording, imo...

    * "Red-faced, he screamed."
    ...ok...

    * "That senile prune-lady was still sleeping."
    ...optional, depending on what's meant...

    * "He eyed the scalp-cutter."
    ...ok...
     
  22. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some interesting differences between UK and US usage, then. Just one comment:
    I think it does make sense, in a synecdoche sort of way. A noun phrase can act as an adjective modifying another noun. It's stretching the language a bit, but not to breaking point. To me it sounds rather critical: "Look at her, with her crimson-lipstick mouth and mutton-dressed-as-lamb dress!"
     
  23. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    I'm a little confused here, then. In my way of thinking, these constructions are similar: Since hatemonger is one word (and warmonger, etc.), pridemonger should be as well. Also, since forewing is one word (according to Merriam-Webster), should tailwing then be one word?

    By this logic, then would I be able to make similar constructions? If sidecar is a word, would rearcar be a word? (I know caboose is sorta kinda sorta the word, but I'm just using this as an example.) If jellylike is one word, can jamlike be a closed compound, too? Where should I draw the line?

    Also, going back to the double-fist thing, I guess the rule is if the word is hyphenated in the dictionary, then hyphen it and, otherwise, leave it out? For instance, I have constructions such as double-barreled (adjective), triple-Sudafed (adjective), triple-clean (verb), double-team (verb), double-beep (verb), etc. I should be checking for each one? Is there a blanket rule for adjectives, verbs, or other word types?
     
  24. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Are you a native English speaker?

    The English language is not all that consistent. Some compounded words are single words, others are hyphenations. If in doubt, look it up. Even if you aren't in doubt, it doesn't hurt to get into the habit of random spot checks.

    By the way, I mean no offense in asking if you are a native speaker of English. Many who speak English as a second language get frustrated because they can't quite grasp what the rules exactly are. Well the secret is that what rules there are have so many exceptions that you have to treat every such rule as a fuzzy generalization.
     
  25. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    English is my first language, but I've gone on autopilot in some of the nuances. Hyphenation is one of them, and it's that random spot check that led me to these questions. I'm still trying to feel my way around compounds.
     

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