Hyphens Exercise (607)
In each sentence, determine whether one or hyphens should be inserted in or omitted.
Answers and Explanations
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."
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."
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.")
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?")
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.