Hyphens Exercise (595)

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

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: Food policy advocates say the change increases equity; however, it’s fueled a backlash from parents and teachers.
Correct : Food-policy advocates say the change increases equity; however, it’s fueled a backlash from parents and teachers.

The phrasal adjective "food policy" modifies "advocates," so the two words should be hyphenated to show that they constitute a unit.

2.
Original: The inventory includes short and long-form materials.
Correct : The inventory includes short- and long-form materials.

This reference to both short-form materials and long-form materials has been shortened somewhat by suspensive hyphenation, in which a word used as the last element in two similar phrasal adjectives in a row is omitted from the first phrase with the understanding that its remaining instance applies to both phrases. (Note the letter space after the first hyphen.)

3.
Original: Astronomers say an object five-times bigger than Jupiter is the first planet outside our solar system to be imaged.
Correct : Astronomers say an object five times bigger than Jupiter is the first planet outside our solar system to be imaged.

"Five" and "times" are erroneously hyphenated; the only valid use of a hyphen between the two words is when "times" is singular and they unite to modify a noun, such as in the phrase "five-time winner."

4.
Original: It’s the stuff of science-fiction, after all.
Correct : It’s the stuff of science fiction, after all.

"Science fiction" is an open compound; it’s also a permanent compound—meaning that it’s an established term documented in dictionaries, not merely a pair of words thrown together for an impromptu performance—so no hyphen would be necessary even if the term modified another noun, as in "I’m a fan of science fiction films." (Compare with "I’m a fan of buddy-cop films"; "buddy cop," a temporary compound not found in dictionaries, requires hyphenation when it precedes a noun.)

5.
Original: Life was easier when we didn’t have to worry about get rich quick harassment lawsuits.
Correct : Life was easier when we didn’t have to worry about get-rich-quick harassment lawsuits.

To signal that the phrase "get rich quick" constitutes a phrasal adjective describing the type of harassment lawsuit, the phrase must be hyphenated.

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