Hyphens Exercise (697)

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

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: Twitter is working on various efforts that would allow users to share tweets that are longer than 140-characters.
Correct : Twitter is working on various efforts that would allow users to share tweets that are longer than 140 characters.

No hyphen is necessary between a number and the name of the thing it refers to unless the two terms modify a noun, as in "140-character tweet."

2.
Original: Twelve other people suffered non-life threatening injuries.
Correct : Twelve other people suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

When the prefix "non" modifies a phrasal adjective, a hyphen should follow it, and one or more additional hyphens should connect the other elements in the phrase; otherwise, "non" appears to refer only to the word that immediately follows it.

3.
Original: More than 1,000 inmates-turned-students have received their high school diploma or the GED equivalent since the school’s inception.
Correct : More than 1,000 inmates turned students have received their high school diploma or the GED equivalent since the school’s inception.

A phrase that includes "turned" as the middle element and indicates a transition from one form or identity to another requires no hyphens.

4.
Original: The gene encodes a member of a subfamily of growth factor-related proteins.
Correct : The gene encodes a member of a subfamily of growth factor–related proteins.

When an open compound such as "growth factor" is linked to another word to form a phrasal adjective to modify a noun, as here, an en dash should be used in place of a hyphen to indicate that the modifying phrase consists of the words "growth," "factor," and "related," not just "factor" and "related."

5.
Original: The company, founded in Philadelphia, is now Boston-based.
Correct : The company, founded in Philadelphia, is now Boston based.

Most phrasal adjectives, such as "Boston based," are not hyphenated when they follow the noun they modify. Better yet, the sentence should be relaxed to read, "The company, founded in Philadelphia, is now based in Boston."

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