Hyphens Exercise (553)

Determine where one or more hyphens should be inserted in each sentence.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: The bill would violate separation of church and state provisions of both the federal and state constitutions.
Correct : The bill would violate separation-of-church-and-state provisions of both the federal and state constitutions.

The phrase preceding "provisions" must be hyphenated to signal that it, as a single entity, modifies that noun. Better yet, avoid the complex phrasal adjective by relaxing the sentence: "The bill would violate provisions for separation of church and state in both the federal and state constitutions."

2.
Original: Apple is about to kickstart an arms race in music streaming.
Correct : Apple is about to kick-start an arms race in music streaming.

In styling the verb for this sentence, the writer was likely influenced by the name of the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, but compound verbs are generally hyphenated. (And, yes, "crowdfunding" is a closed compound.)

3.
Original: The over the top positioning is simply alienating to the modern day sophisticated and complex young woman.
Correct : The over-the-top positioning is simply alienating to the modern-day sophisticated and complex young woman.

The phrasal adjective "over the top" should be hyphenated because it describes the positioning, and "modern day," as a phrasal adjective preceding "young woman," also requires hyphenation.

4.
Original: The San Francisco Giants will have the fourth-highest paid roster in Major League Baseball.
Correct : The San Francisco Giants will have the fourth-highest-paid roster in Major League Baseball.

This sentence refers to a roster that is paid more than all but three other teams, not a paid roster that is fourth highest, so "paid" must be attached to "fourth-highest."

5.
Original: The actual value of your trade in will be determined upon receipt of your device.
Correct : The actual value of your trade-in will be determined upon receipt of your device.

"Trade-in," a noun, is hyphenated to indicate that grammatical function. As a verb phrase, it is styled as an open compound, as in "Trade in your old cell phone when purchasing a new phone, tablet, or device."

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