Hyphens Exercise (656)

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

Answers and Explanations

Original: She carefully studied the due diligence clause.
Correct : She carefully studied the due diligence clause.

"Due diligence" is a standing phrasal adjective—common enough, like "high school," "ice cream," and the like, so that it has its own entry in the dictionary and needs no hyphenation to indicate that the words combine to modify the following noun.

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.

"Near" is hyphenated with a noun only to form a phrasal adjective, as in "near-death experience."

Original: They met face to face to work out the details.
Correct : They met face-to-face to work out the details.

"Face-to-face," one of a class of terms (also including, among others, "head-to-head" and "toe-to-toe") that refer to two identical anatomical features, is always hyphenated, whether used as an adverb, as here, or as an adjective, as in "They were engaged in a heart-to-heart conversation."

Original: This is a more sparsely-populated county than its neighbors.
Correct : This is a more sparsely populated county than its neighbors.

Adverbs are never hyphenated to an adjective they precede, because rather than combining with that word as a phrasal adjective to modify a following noun, they are modifying that word.

Original: The project is an all encompassing effort to combat illiteracy.
Correct : The project is an all-encompassing effort to combat illiteracy.

The phrasal adjective "all-encompassing" is hyphenated before a noun.

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