Hyphens with Numerals Exercise (561)

Revise each sentence to reflect correct use of hyphens with numerals.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: The electrified fence, 10-feet-high, will stretch along the country’s 1,800-mile border with India.
Correct : The electrified fence, 10 feet high, will stretch along the country’s 1,800-mile border with India.

No hyphens are necessary in the reference to the height of the wall. (If the reference to the height preceded the noun phrase "electrified fence," however, the hyphenated form would be correct: "The 10-foot-high electrified fence . . . .")

2.
Original: The monk began his vow not to speak by undertaking a 2-1/2 year walk up the coast.
Correct : The monk began his vow not to speak by undertaking a 2 1/2-year walk up the coast.

Hyphens are not used in mixed fractions, but when a mixed fraction and a word indicating a unit of measurement or time combine to modify a noun that follows them, a hyphen is required between the figure and the word for the unit.

3.
Original: If a child is not 100 percent supervised, he or she is in 100-percent danger.
Correct : If a child is not 100 percent supervised, he or she is in 100 percent danger.

A number must be hyphenated to a word referring to a unit of measurement when the number and the term for the unit combine to modify a noun that follows them (as in "100-meter dash"), but "percent" is not a unit of measurement, so no hyphen is necessary.

4.
Original: We are seeking a programmer for a 1-2 month contract in the San Francisco area.
Correct : We are seeking a programmer for a 1-to-2-month contract in the San Francisco area.

The hyphenation system required for this sentence is unique. The reference is to a contract lasting 1–2 months. Note that here I used an en dash, a sort of superhyphen used to indicate a number range. However, the entire number range needs to be linked to "month" to combine the elements as a phrase modifying "contract," so "to" replaces the en dash to minimize reader confusion.

5.
Original: This contract is for a 35-40 hour a week position.
Correct : This contract is for a 35-to-40-hour-a-week position.

This sentence has the same issue as the previous one. The reference is to a job that might require anywhere from 35 hours a week (a 35-hour-a-week position) to 40 hours a week (a 40-hour-a-week position). (If two distinct positions were under discussion, the sentence would read something like "These contracts are for a 35-hour-a-week position and a 40-hour-a-week position" or, with suspensive hyphenation, "These contracts are for a 35- and a 40-hour-a-week position.")

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