Hyphens Exercise (158)

The following sentences include terms that may or may not require one or more hyphens. Choose the correct sentence from each pair.

    1.
    We all believed Mr. Bartram’s methods were cutting-edge.
    We all believed Mr. Bartram’s methods were cutting edge.

    2.
    I think the mother is overprotective of her ten year old when she follows him to the bus-stop.
    I think the mother is overprotective of her ten-year-old when she follows him to the bus stop.

    3.
    Mrs. Judkins is a highly paid worker for the mediocre job that she does.
    Mrs. Judkins is a highly-paid worker for the mediocre job that she does.

    4.
    An over the counter drug is usually less expensive than a prescription.
    An over-the-counter drug is usually less expensive than a prescription.

    5.
    The passengers, who waited in the airport overnight, are Chicago bound for the most part.
    The passengers, who waited in the airport overnight, are Chicago-bound for the most part.

Answers and Explanations

Some rules for hyphens are complex and/or dependent on the situation. The following are some of the standard and accepted rules:

1. Compound adjectives of two or more words are generally hyphenated before a noun, but seldom after the noun.
2. Compounds formed by adverbs ending in -ly plus an adjective or a participle (such as beautifully dressed) are not hyphenated either before or after a noun.
3. Age terms (such as five-year-old) are hyphenated in both adjective and noun forms.

1. We all believed Mr. Bartram’s methods were cutting edge.
The phrasal adjective cutting edge does describe the noun methods, but it comes after that noun rather than before it.

2. I think the mother is overprotective of her ten-year-old when she follows him to the bus stop.
Age terms, such as ten-year-old, are hyphenated whether used as an adjective or a noun, as it is here. There is no reason to hyphenate bus stop.

3. Mrs. Judkins is a highly paid worker for the mediocre job that she does.
As an adverb ending in -ly before an adjective, highly is not hyphenated with paid.

4. An over-the-counter drug is usually less expensive than a prescription.
The phrasal adjective over the counter comes before the noun it modifies.

5. The passengers, who waited in the airport overnight, are Chicago bound for the most part.
The phrasal adjective Chicago bound comes after the noun passengers, which it modifies.

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