Hyphens Exercise (667)

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

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: We restrict access to servers housing the data on an as needed basis.
Correct : We restrict access to servers housing the data on an as-needed basis.

The basis is as needed, so those two words describing the type of basis are hyphenated as a phrasal adjective.

2.
Original: She’s charged with killing her four-year old.
Correct : She’s charged with killing her four-year-old.

"Old" is part of the phrasal adjective modifying the implied noun "child," so it should be hyphenated to the rest of the phrase.

3.
Original: They massed close to a razor wire separating them from machine-gun toting policemen.
Correct : They massed close to a razor wire separating them from machine-gun-toting police.

The police are toting machine guns, so the three words describing the police are hyphenated to form an extended phrasal adjective.

4.
Original: The barrier would extend in a V-shape 30-miles in both directions to use the ocean current to drive the debris to the center.
Correct : The barrier would extend in a V shape 30 miles in both directions to use the ocean current to drive the debris to the center.

No hyphen is necessary in the phrases "V shape" and "30 miles"; a hyphen is correct only when those phrases are phrasal adjectives preceding a noun (for example, in "a V-shaped tool" and "a 30-mile journey").

5.
Original: Leaders in higher performing school systems supplement school and classroom-level interventions with targeted support for students who are below grade-level.
Correct : Leaders in higher-performing school systems supplement school- and classroom-level interventions with targeted support for students who are below grade level.

"Higher performing," a phrasal adjective that modifies "school systems," must be hyphenated to avoid misreading the combined phrase as meaning "performing school systems that are higher," the second instance of "school" should be followed by a hyphen to indicate that it shares "level" with "classroom" (this punctuation mark is called a suspensive hyphen), and the hyphen in "grade level" serves no purpose.

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