Hyphens Exercise (584)

Determine whether a hyphen should be inserted in or omitted from each sentence.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: Smith said the legal problems are his biggest hang up.
Correct : Smith said the legal problems are his biggest hang-up.

The verb phrase "hang up" is not hyphenated, but the usage here is the noun "hang-up," which is hyphenated.

2.
Original: Friday’s commencement in the school’s new $128-million football stadium was the first university-wide ceremony in memory.
Correct : Friday’s commencement in the school’s new $128 million football stadium was the first university-wide ceremony in memory.

The hyphen in the number figure serves no purpose; dollar amounts are understood to constitute a phrasal adjective without the need for a hyphen to show the connection of the number and the order of magnitude ("million"). (One- and two-syllable words ending with the suffix "wide" are hyphenated, but longer words such as "university-wide" are not.)

3.
Original: In 2013, two professors at the University of Sydney surveyed 42,000 office-workers.
Correct : In 2013, two professors at the University of Sydney surveyed 42,000 office workers.

"Office workers" is an open temporary compound; no hyphenation is required.

4.
Original: Not coincidentally, it’s the company’s fastest growing business, too.
Correct : Not coincidentally, it’s the company’s fastest-growing business, too.

The phrase "fastest growing business" implies a growing business that is fastest, but the sentence refer to a business that has the fastest growth, so the phrasal adjective "fastest growing" must be hyphenated.

5.
Original: A toddler survived a near-drowning after rescuers performed CPR for 101 minutes.
Correct : A toddler survived a near drowning after rescuers performed CPR for 101 minutes.

A hyphen should connect "near" with another word only when they combine to modify another word, as in "The number of near-miss incidents has decreased."

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