Hyphenation Exercise (464)

In each sentence below, one or more hyphens should connect two or more words. Insert hyphens as needed.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: A ten year old boy is not going to prize a language arts book.
Correct : A ten-year-old boy is not going to prize a language arts book.

"Ten year old," as a phrasal adjective modifying "boy," must be hyphenated. "Language arts" is a permanent open compound that, because it is unlikely to create ambiguity when used as a phrasal adjective, is not hyphenated. (Such terms are usually listed in the dictionary.)

2.
Original: Full time employees are those who work more than twenty hours per week.
Correct : Full-time employees are those who work more than twenty hours per week.

The phrasal adjective "full time" must be hyphenated before a noun (but not after). Phrases such as "twenty hours per week" are sometimes erroneously hyphenated out of confusion with similar phrases used as phrasal adjectives, such as in "He has a twenty-hour-per-week job."

3.
Original: The science fiction writer’s off the cuff comment had unfortunate consequences.
Correct : The science fiction writer’s off-the-cuff comment had unfortunate consequences.

"Science fiction" is a permanent open compound. "Off the cuff" is a phrasal adjective.

4.
Original: Big box stores have had an impact on the number of locally owned businesses.
Correct : Big-box stores have had an impact on the number of locally owned businesses.

"Big box" is a phrasal adjective. Adverbial phrases such as "locally owned" are never hyphenated.

5.
Original: In spite of the evidence, the high school student got off scot free.
Correct : In spite of the evidence, the high school student got off scot-free.

"High school" is a permanent open compound. Scot-free is a hyphenated adjective. It is not a phrasal adjective, however, so it is always hyphenated. (Phrasal adjectives are generally not hyphenated after the noun they modify.)

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