5 Compound-Word Corrections
Writers sometimes confuse a two-word phrase for a closed compound noun consisting of those two words, or vice versa. Here are five cases in which a noun phrase or a verb phrase was mistaken for a compound word or the other way around.
1. “Eating McDonald’s food everyday for four weeks turned this filmmaker into a bloated, depressed wreck.”
Everyday is an adjective (“It’s not an everyday occurrence”). “Every day” is a phrase consisting of an adjective and a noun (“That’s not something you see every day”). In this sentence, the usage is adjective-plus-noun: “Eating McDonald’s food every day for four weeks turned this filmmaker into a bloated, depressed wreck.”
2. “Seen as both godsend and a major let down, it remains the city’s artistic center.”
“Let down,” consisting of a verb and an adverb, is employed in such sentences as “He was let down.” As a closed compound, it’s a noun: “That’s a real letdown.” In this sentence, it should be in noun form: “Seen as both godsend and a major letdown, it remains the city’s artistic center.”
3. “Resistance from the state legislature could doom the governor-elect’s promise to rollback the hike.”
A rollback is a thing (“The rollback proposal failed in committee”); to roll back is to perform an action (“The state will roll back the price hike”). This sentence refers to an action, not a thing, so the compound must be changed to a verb phrase: “Resistance from the state legislature could doom the governor-elect’s promise to roll back the hike.”
4. “California gave a record $100 million loan to bailout schools.”
As in the previous example, what is in context an action is styled as a noun. The sentence should read, “California gave a record $100 million loan to bail out schools.” Better yet, close the sentence with the preposition: “California gave a record $100 million loan to bail schools out.”
5. “International organizations continue their pull out as rebels attack a train.”
If the sentence read that the organizations continued to pull out, the two-word verb phrase would be correct. But pulling out is an action, so it’s a pullout: “International organizations continue their pullout as rebels attack a train.”
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