1. jakeybum
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    "-ly" words and hyphens

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by jakeybum, Aug 15, 2015.

    an unhappily married couple
    (No hyphen after "unhappily.")

    But:

    "a matronly-looking woman" gets the hyphen, correct?
     
  2. The Mad Regent
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    Correct.
     
  3. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    I think it's because "matronly-looking" is like a compound adjective, combining to make a complete descriptor. Without the hyphen, you get a woman who is looking, and is matronly.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Best to read the rules here, as they are a tad complex and in your example 'unhappily married' sounds very much like a compound adverb as 'matronly looking'.

    It starts out sounding simple:
    Then gets confusing:
    From the Oxford Dictionaries (same link)
    Then it gets completely illogical:
    And ends with this:
    o_O
     
  5. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    All you need to do is find out if 'matronly' is an actual word, and if so, the hyphen works with 'looking.'

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/matronly
     
  6. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    Thing is, it also works with words not ending in "-ly". Good-looking, garlic-flavored, mint-scented, mystery-loving, health-conscious...
     
  7. jakeybum
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    I just figured this out. My "trick" to getting it correct is to do this:

    happily married couple
    Omit "married," and you're left with "happily couple" —no good; hence, no hyphen between "happily" and "married."
    This is the adverbial usage, so hyphens are never used.

    matronly-looking woman
    Omit "looking," and you're left with "matronly woman," a phrase that makes total sense; therefore, we'd use the hyphen between "matronly" and "looking." Hyphen is employed for the adjectival usage after "-ly" words used in cases like these.

    Let us try another one.

    an oily-faced adolescent
    Omit "-faced," and you have "an oily adolescent," which is totally logical. Thus the hyphen for the adjectival usage (after "oily") is correct here.

    I think this trick works nicely.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2015
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  8. GingerCoffee
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    I like that but it confuses me. Something doesn't work with the logic. I think you are on the right track but interpreting it wrong. I'll have to think about it a minute.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2015
  9. GingerCoffee
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    OK, this is what I think about that logic. Take the second word by itself or the first.

    happily married couple
    Married couple works. Happily couple doesn't.
    Ergo happily modifies married. It needs the hyphen.

    matronly looking woman
    Matronly woman works. Looking woman doesn't.
    Ergo matronly modifies looking. It needs the hyphen.

    an oily faced adolescent
    Oily adolescent works. Faced adolescent doesn't.
    Ergo oily modifies faced. It needs the hyphen.

    If, on the other hand, either adverb or adjective modify the noun, no hyphen would be needed.

    married, matronly couple
    No hyphen needed, but one does need a comma.

    That's what makes sense to me anyway. Doesn't mean I'm right but it is what makes sense.
     
  10. jakeybum
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    It's quite easy. Look at it again. It makes one hundred percent sense.
     
  11. jakeybum
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    Wow! I didn't look at it that way. That works, too.
     
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  12. jakeybum
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    That's the beauty of it all. Everyone's mind is wired differently, and the way you view it is totally logical, too. We are coming up with the same correct answer but have taken different highways. Nice! :)
     
  13. jakeybum
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    Edit: No. There cannot be a hyphen in "happily married couple." That's just purely wrong.
     
  14. jakeybum
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    "a sharply worded reprimand"
    No hyphen, because we wouldn't say "a sharply reprimand."

    But if we have a phrasal adjective, as in "a not-so-sharply-worded reprimand," we must use the hyphen after "sharply" because we now have a one-thought modifier using multiple words. Hence, we need to use the hyphens throughout.
     
  15. GingerCoffee
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    So you still don't see that the way you are looking at it is logically flawed?

    I'm willing to keep pondering this, but it begs the question: Is there something about whether the first or second modifier has the direct relationship to the adjective or noun?

    oily faced
    happily married

    I'm not seeing the difference in oily and happily there relative to the noun they describe, they both directly modify the adjective, not the noun. I think I need more examples.

    I get what you are saying, and I am only going by the logic that the two adverb/adjectives are related thus needing the hyphen. I accept that I may be looking at it wrongly. But my logical brain still objects.

    I'll re-read that link I cited.
     
  16. jakeybum
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    Apply this logic to the examples you submitted earlier.

    “family-oriented websites”; supply-side economics”; “only-begotten son”

    Omit the words that follow the hyphen. You're left with "family websites," "supply economics," and "only son" —all of which make sense; thus we need the hyphens before "-oriented,' "-side," and
    "-begotten."

    Now do you see why?
     
  17. jakeybum
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    I'm going to call this trick "The second-word-omission trick." LOL
     
  18. GingerCoffee
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    That part of your logic is not the problem, it's the other half when the first word doesn't work with the noun.

    Again, I'm not saying you are wrong, I'm saying I don't see the logic as it's being applied.
     

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