Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Use a hyphen with two or more words used as a single adjective before the noun

West is an all-for-one-and-one-for-all school!

The rule: Hyphenate two or more words serving as a single adjective preceding the noun, but do not join an adverb ending in -ly with the word it modifies.

As in: We live in a well-built house.

BUT The house is well built.

And: a clearly conceived plan (no hyphen--- "clearly" is an adverb ending in -ly).

This is Harbrace Rule 18f (1)

Why does it matter?

It can help a reader understand the sense of a sentence and sometimes actually change the meaning. Our octogenarian high school English teacher, Ferdinand Ruge, loved to use the following example:

Mr. Jones has cast-off clothing and invites inspection.
Mr. Jones has cast off clothing and invites inspection.


ben said...

Is this called joint-ownership?

Tareq Hasan said...

An ordinary spell check will catch obvious errors, but does not check for context, so that if you use "knight" instead of "night" it won't catch it because both are correctly spelled words. Online grammar checkers read whole sentences, not just words. See more check my punctuation