Tags:
  1. dillseed
    Offline

    dillseed Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    390
    Likes Received:
    19

    Your Pick ... 1 or 2?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by dillseed, May 11, 2014.

    I think that we can forgo the commas in No. 1 below. Do you? I vote for No. 2.

    All examples below represent a single period of time/duration, so why split each of them with commas? Agreed?

    (1) a ten-year, two-month, three-day project (Not preferred.)

    (2) a ten-year two-month three-day project (Good!)

    I say no commas in any of the examples below.

    The project lasted ten years two months and three days.

    The project lasted ten years two months three days.

    a two-hour twenty-minute play
    (No hyphen after ‘hour’?)

    The play lasted two hours twenty minutes.
    (No comma after ‘hours’?)

    Thanks.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2014
  2. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,821
    Likes Received:
    7,345
    Location:
    Scotland
    As a writer, I'd say rewrite those first two so they read more smoothly. Any construction that requires three hyphenated compound words in a row is horrendously awkward.

    Nothing wrong with: The project lasted ten years, two months, and three days. If you were reading that, you'd have an immediate sense of the time that had passed. (If you hate Oxford commas, leave out the comma between months and and. Both methods are correct.) The first two phrases are so awkward—commas or no commas—that you'd stop readers in their tracks. I'd say don't go there.

    I think one of the things writers need to do is learn to rewrite stuff that sounds clunky, even if it's technically correct.

    I would also write: The play lasted two hours and twenty minutes.

    I'm not trying to bodyswerve the issue of where to put commas. I just think these constructions are so awkward I wouldn't bother writing them.
     
  3. dillseed
    Offline

    dillseed Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    390
    Likes Received:
    19
    Thank you.

    If I opted for the compound modifier, I would use the commas:

    ten-year, two-month, three-day project (unequivocally an easier read)

    If we were to write "a ten-pound-five-ounce baby," I'd drop that second hyphen and would substitute it with a comma, like this:

    a ten-pound, five-ounce baby

    or

    a six-foot, five-inch man

    Additionally, I think the following may look better with the commas, too:

    six feet, five inches tall
    seven pounds, five ounces

    The commas here represent the word and.

    Do you agree with all, jannert?
     
  4. dillseed
    Offline

    dillseed Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    390
    Likes Received:
    19
    Never mind.

    The punctuation section of Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Dictionary uses these examples:

    a 6-foot 2-inch man (no hyphen after 'foot') / is 6 feet 2 inches tall / is six feet two inches tall / is six feet two or is 6 feet 2

    weighing 7 pounds 9 ounces /
    a 7-pound 9-ounce infant (no hyphen after 'pound')

    Based on its examples, "a ten-year two-month three-day project" and "The project lasted ten years two months three days" are indeed correct.

    If you can't trust good ol' M-W, whom can you trust?
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2014
  5. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,821
    Likes Received:
    7,345
    Location:
    Scotland
    Yes, I'd have no problem understanding these, with the commas included. Again, I think I'd reword, though, especially the first one about the project—but if you must, you must! :)
     
  6. dillseed
    Offline

    dillseed Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    390
    Likes Received:
    19
    Thank you.

    Have a nice day. :)
     
  7. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i'd eschew the commas, as they just get in the way, are annoying and not needed...
     
  8. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,821
    Likes Received:
    7,345
    Location:
    Scotland
    Playing with this in a real sentence.

    My uncle Fred needs a tall man's jacket because he is six feet five inches tall, and his wrists hang out of sleeves that are a normal length.

    My uncle Fred needs a tall man's jacket because he is six feet, five inches tall, and his wrists hang out of sleeves that are a normal length.

    Not sure, @mammamaia, but you might be right.
     

Share This Page