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Adjectives

Note 128 – Hyphenating adjectives correctly


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.

More examples:

  • 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.

Don’t forget that you can subscribe to receive my daily blogs by email so that you don’t miss any. Just click ‘sign me up’ on the home page. Alternatively you can follow my blogs on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/madeirasandra or my new Tips and Luxuries Facebook page. Requests for future blogs (punctuation/grammar/writing tips) are always welcome.

Until tomorrow…

Sandra

My writing challenge: http://wp.me/p1x6Ui-4

This blog: https://mywritingnotebook.wordpress.com

My other blog: http://sandramadeira.wordpress.com

My website: www.tipsandluxuries.com (includes the introduction to my upcoming book ‘A Gift for Stressed and Busy Parents’)

Twitter: @madeirasandra and @tipsandluxuries

Reference list:

Pocket Writer’s Handbook by Martin Manser & Stephen Curtis (Penguin Reference Library)

The Oxford A-Z of Grammar & Punctuation by John Seely, USA

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About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Please let me know what you think of my blog - constructive comments welcome. Have a great day Sandra Freelance Writer www.sandramadeira.com

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