Hyphens Exercise (523)

Determine whether a hyphen should be inserted in each sentence.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: The privately built spacecraft will undergo a second test flight in an effort to secure the X Prize.
Correct : The privately built spacecraft will undergo a second test flight in an effort to secure the X Prize.

This sentence is correct as is. Hyphens are often incorrectly inserted between adverbs like "privately" and verbs that follow them.

2.
Original: Representatives of North Korea and South Korea met for the highest level talks the two countries had held in many years.
Correct : Representatives of North Korea and South Korea met for the highest-level talks the two countries had held in many years.

Without the inserted hyphen, the sentence implies that the subject of the meeting was level talks that were highest; the hyphen links "highest" and "level" so that it is clear that together they modify "talks."

3.
Original: The report ranks the most over and undervalued US cities.
Correct : The report ranks the most over- and undervalued US cities.

The word "overvalued" is implied by "over-"; the hyphen (followed by a letter space) signals the implication. However, it’s usually best to avoid suspensive hyphenation and use the full word: "The report ranks the most overvalued and undervalued US cities.

4.
Original: She argued that she had the right of way, but the traffic video camera proved her wrong.
Correct : She argued that she had the right of way, but the traffic video camera proved her wrong.

This sentence is correct as is. Phrases like "right of way" are sometimes incorrectly hyphenated. (There is no reason to connect the words unless they modify a noun that follows them, as in "The right-of-way conflict quickly escalated.")

5.
Original: The salesman insisted that the carpet was hand woven, but her trained eye told her that it had been woven by a machine.
Correct : The salesman insisted that the carpet was hand woven, but her trained eye told her that it had been woven by a machine.

This sentence is correct as is. A phrasal adjective like "hand woven" is usually hyphenated only before a noun, as in "hand-woven carpet."

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