Hyphens Exercise (759)

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

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: They used hoses to hand water seedlings.
Correct : They used hoses to hand-water seedlings.

The compound verb should be hyphenated.

2.
Original: Jones decided to not raise his prices this year, and a six-to-seven-foot Christmas tree is selling for sixty dollars, as it did in 2014.
Correct : Jones decided to not raise his prices this year, and a six- or seven-foot Christmas tree is selling for sixty dollars, as it did in 2014.

Christmas trees are generally priced according to size in one-foot increments, so the number range should be styled to indicate a choice between one size and another. In a case of suspensive hyphenation, the inclusion of "foot" after "six" is implied; the word, though attached only to "seven" with a hyphen, is understood to apply to both numbers.

3.
Original: Doctors now believe that the accident she suffered when she was twenty-years-old did nothing to damage her eyes.
Correct : Doctors now believe that the accident she suffered when she was twenty years old did nothing to damage her eyes.

A phrase indicating an age should be hyphenated only when, as a phrasal adjective, it modifies a noun or noun phrase, as in "the twenty-year-old college student."

4.
Original: The remains of the fifteen year old were found twenty-five years to the day after she went missing.
Correct : The remains of the fifteen-year-old were found twenty-five years to the day after she went missing.

Here, a noun or noun phrase such as "girl" is implied to follow "fifteen-year-old," which technically is a phrasal adjective, so even though that phrase serves the function of a noun, it is hyphenated. The spelled-out number "twenty-five" is correctly hyphenated.

5.
Original: Smith won a bronze medal at the 2008 games in Beijing in the 60-64 kilogram category.
Correct : Smith won a bronze medal at the 2008 games in Beijing in the 60-to-64-kilogram category.

When two dimensions refer to a single object or class, do not use suspensive hyphenation to connect the dimensions; link the entire phrasal adjective together, as in "The box contained a stack of 3-by-5-inch cards."

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