Hyphens Exercise (725)

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

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: A study ranked the state’s school systems the third-worst in the nation.
Correct : A study ranked the state’s school systems the third worst in the nation.

A phrase such as "third worst" should be hyphenated only when it precedes a noun or noun phrase (such as "third-worst school system").

2.
Original: A nineteenth century state law says anyone who "deliberately aids, or advises, or encourages another to commit suicide" is guilty of a felony.
Correct : A nineteenth-century state law says anyone who "deliberately aids, or advises, or encourages another to commit suicide" is guilty of a felony.

The phrasal adjective "nineteenth century," modifying "state law," requires hyphenation.

3.
Original: She was teaching fifth-grade when, according to district officials, she had the credentials to teach only up to third-grade.
Correct : She was teaching fifth grade when, according to district officials, she had the credentials to teach only up to third grade.

The phrases "fifth grade" and "third grade" (like similar phrases) is hyphenated only before a noun (as in "fifth-grade teacher" or "third-grade textbook").

4.
Original: We suggest that the questions be more substance-based.
Correct : We suggest that the questions be more substance based.

Phrasal adjectives are generally hyphenated only before the noun (as in "substance-based questions").

5.
Original: It was a complete train-wreck.
Correct : It was a complete train wreck.

The noun phrase "train wreck" needs no hyphenation.

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