1. dillseed
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    dillseed Active Member

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    Predicative Position - Hyphens?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by dillseed, Mar 1, 2013.

    Do we need the hyphens after the verbs in their predicative position?

    He is well-respected.
    He is well-known.
    He is well-adapted.
    He is well-versed.
    The performance was well-received.
    The punishment was well-deserved.
    He is well-mannered.
    Mr Smith is well-heeled.
    The rumors are well-founded.
    The project was well-planned.
    He is well-rested.
    The money was well-earned.
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think you need the hyphens the way these sentences are written. But if you wrote "He was a well-respected man" then you would need the hyphen. In such a case, you're using "well-respected" as a single adjective modifying "man", and the hyphen makes it effectively a single word.

    I suppose it's possible there might be regional differences in this usage, but that's how I'd do it.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I believe you mean after the adverb, not after the verb. I;d say no, but to be certain, try to look up the hyphenated version in a dictionary.
     
  4. JohnW
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    JohnW Member

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    I think the hyphen is certainly needed where the adverb stands as a verb in its own right.

    The girl wore a light-green dress.

    * The girl wore a light (weight) green dress.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Beg to differ.

    The girl wore a light green dress. (light modifies the nearest eligible word: green)

    The girl wore a light, green dress. (light and green are both modifiers of the dress)
     
  6. aspidistra
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    aspidistra Member

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    Cogito, in your example above I can see how 'light' modifies 'green' with the absence of a comma. But is it wrong to hyphenate in this instance to ensure that the reader gets the right message?
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    To me, "The girl wore a light-green dress" means the dress was as green as light. It's like "Mr. Creosote ate a wafer-thin mint." There is such a thing as a mint as thin as a wafer, but what is a light-green dress? It doesn't really make sense.

    The proper construction is "The girl wore a light green dress." That means the dress is a light green color, but the dress might also be heavy. As Cogito pointed out, you could also say "The girl wore a light, green dress." That means the dress is light and is also green. The meanings are different. But "The girl wore a light-green dress" doesn't work at all.
     
  8. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would say from personal observation that over punctuating is unadvisable. Hyphens should only be used for clarity or if the word is never seen without a hyphen. Sometimes it's better to rewrite or clarify than use a hyphen or comma to make your meaning clear, e.g.
    The old car salesman came out of his office. (is the man old, or does he sell antique cars?)
    - The elderly car salesman came out of his office.
    - The salesman for the old car dealership came out of his office.
    She wore a light green dress. (is the colour light, or the material?)
    - She wore a green dress of thin cotton material that fluttered in the breeze.
    - She wore a pale green dress with a childish daisy design around the hem.

    And I agree with minstrel's observation.
     
  9. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Minstrel's explanation, like Cogito's, is correct in all accounts as far as I can tell. That is the structure that is accepted as proper grammar; although I find it varies between authors from time to time. My recommendation is to follow the example here because it is right and would only be unclear to those who don't know how to read punctuation lol.

    In the case of the original poster's sentences, I do not think that leaving them separate is wrong. It is possibly more grammatically correct to leave them separate, in the context above, because "well" then becomes the adverb, modifying the verb "planned" or "received" or whatever is there. You then have all of the components of a sentence: Subject, Predicate, and Modifiers.
     
  10. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find a few hyphenated words are overstatement. I've noticed in a few US text books the word "self-confident/self-confidence." As a British English speaker, I had never come across this until recently, and I can't see why the "self" is necessary.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Avoid creating hyphenates that aren't standard. You are, in effect, coining a new word.
     

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