There are many adjectives with hyphens such as left-handed and well-mannered; however, in some instances you don’t need a hyphen. The Pocket Writer’s Handbook by Martin Manser & Stephen Curtis suggests using a hyphen if the adjective comes before a noun e.g. a left-handed child and a well-kept house. If, however, the adjective follows a verb then it doesn’t require a hyphen e.g. Masie is left handed and Suzie likes well behaved children.
- The self-help books are upstairs.
- Adam is self conscious.
- Jane is a well-known writer.
- The soup is home made.
- Home-made soup is delicious.
Is the following correct?
“The department store sells left-handed cutlery”
I couldn’t find anything suggesting what to do if the adjective follows a verb and is also before a noun, so I turned to the Oxford A-Z of Grammar & Punctuation by John Seely. He suggests that a compound adjective (a word composed of two words – in this case left-handed) should have a hyphen if it makes the meaning clearer. In the above sentence, I believe that it reads better when the word ‘left-handed’ has a hyphen.
That’s it for today. If you have any questions about today’s blog, please leave me a comment.
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Pocket Writer’s Handbook by Martin Manser & Stephen Curtis (Penguin Reference Library)
The Oxford A-Z of Grammar & Punctuation by John Seely, USA