Hyphens Exercise (607)

In each sentence, determine whether one or hyphens should be inserted in or omitted.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: The committee is ultimately responsible for creating a data based and results oriented performance culture.
Correct : The committee is ultimately responsible for creating a data-based and results-oriented performance culture.

The phrases "data based" and "results oriented" are phrasal adjectives that must be hyphenated before the noun (or, in this case, noun phrase) they modify—"performance culture."

2.
Original: Because her house is not insulated, she chose a comforter that is extra-thick.
Correct : Because her house is not insulated, she chose a comforter that is extra thick.

Phrasal adjectives such as "extra thick" are usually hyphenated only when they precede a noun, as in "the extra-thick comforter."

3.
Original: Cops are eyeing an exotic animal owner who lost a finger.
Correct : Cops are eyeing an exotic-animal owner who lost a finger.

The sentence implies that the animal owner is exotic, but the person is an owner of exotic animals, so "exotic animal" must be hyphenated to show that it is a phrasal adjective modifying "owner." (Also, the inclusion of two words, one figurative and the other literal, describing body parts is distracting; "eyeing" should be replaced with "investigating.")

4.
Original: His parents divorced when he was 4-years-old.
Correct : His parents divorced when he was 4 years old.

Phrases describing ages are not hyphenated unless they precede an actual or implied noun. ("They helped a four-year-old boy who was lost," "What do you buy a four-year-old?")

5.
Original: He comes from a family that it quite well to do.
Correct : He comes from a family that it quite well-to-do.

Even though "well-to-do" is a phrasal adjective, and phrasal adjectives are generally hyphenated only when they precede a noun, this phrase is always hyphenated.

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