Category: Hyphens

Hunting for Help with Hyphens

Posted on Tuesday, September 15, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Few components of English grammar have puzzled writers and editors more than the hyphen. When do we insert it? When don’t we? Why does it appear here but not there when last time it was there? Hyphen use remains in continual flux. The stylistic tug of war could be seen in 2019 updates to The …

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Christmas ‘Log Review

Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Every year, for six weeks or so, I get a taste of what it's like to be a superstar. From late October to early December, I am accosted daily by an aggressive mob of stalkers who know where I live. Their urgent need for my attention seems to be their only reason for being. No, …

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Year-End Quiz 2018

Posted on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Another year of grammatical exploration has concluded with linguistic miles behind us. What we’ve learned and discussed with you along the way has been illuminating, and we are grateful for the thought and insight it has inspired. We hope you gathered even more sharpened tools for communicating in concise and eloquent English. A year-end review …

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Punctuating Compounds That Precede

Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2018, at 11:00 pm

It's enough to drive even the most exacting writers, proofers, and editors a little batty sometimes: More than one descriptive word precedes a noun, forming what we call a compound modifier. Do we need to hyphenate the words, or are they well enough left alone? What if we have two words modifying another word and all three …

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A _____ Walks Into a Bar

Posted on Tuesday, April 10, 2018, at 11:00 pm

The phrase A ______ walks into a bar has provided the take-off point for an uncountable number of jokes over the years. No matter what one’s opinion is of bars, we hope that everyone can appreciate the lessons in English grammar contained in the clever sentences that follow: A dangling participle walks into a bar. Enjoying …

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Are We Hyphenating Well?

Posted on Tuesday, April 3, 2018, at 11:00 pm

The proper use of good and well in writing is a common grammatical topic; we last addressed it in September 2017. For many, the distinction can be uncertain. An equally slippery subject is whether to hyphenate well when it helps describe a noun. For example, do we write a well-dressed man or a well dressed …

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Year-End Quiz 2017

Posted on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, at 12:01 pm

Review is good for retention. That’s why GrammarBook.com likes to start the new year with a jumbo quiz that spans the last twelve months of topics we’ve covered with you. In 2017 we explored an array of ways to enhance your grammar and writing. We hope what you learned follows you well into 2018 as …

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Writing Dates and Times

Posted on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, at 8:54 am

Rule: The following examples apply when using dates: The meeting is scheduled for June 30. The meeting is scheduled for the 30th of June. We have had tricks played on us on April 1. The 1st of April puts some people on edge. (Some prefer to write it out: The first of April) Rule: There …

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Comma Chameleon

Posted on Wednesday, April 5, 2017, at 11:28 am

I realize that on the grand scale of interesting things, punctuation is pretty far down the list. (In a recent survey, it was in a dead heat with stovepipes, just behind pocket lint.) Punctuation is a dying art. I’m not sure whether this is the writers’ or the readers’ fault, but I mostly blame the …

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Hyphenation with Numbers and Units of Measure

Posted on Wednesday, February 22, 2017, at 7:21 pm

Few punctuation marks prompt as much debate and discussion about when and where to place them as the hyphen does. Opinions and directives vary. GrammarBook.com aims to help define common written English that applies proper, generally accepted rules. Those guidelines likewise look to reinforce a precise and articulate use of the language. This means our …

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Hyphens: We Miss Them When They’re Gone

Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2016, at 2:33 pm

Most people ignore hyphens. Those who don’t ignore them often misuse them. “Nothing gives away the incompetent amateur more quickly than the typescript that neglects this mark of punctuation or that employs it where it is not wanted,” wrote the language scholar Wilson Follett. The writer-editor Theodore M. Bernstein was more sympathetic: “The world of …

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A Sportswriter Cries “Foul!”

Posted on Tuesday, July 26, 2016, at 1:30 pm

by Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist The hyphens are coming, and beware—they’re taking over. Commas, not so much. Commas have gone extinct. These are a couple of my pet peeves when it comes to grammatical violations in print. More on that later. In the meantime: Somehow, a guy named Al showed up in …

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Copy Editors Are People Too

Posted on Wednesday, June 8, 2016, at 9:38 am

There can’t be many books about the life and adventures of a professional word doctor, but one that came out in 2015 is definitely worth a look. It’s Between You and Me, by Mary Norris, a longtime New Yorker copy editor who calls herself a “comma queen.” Norris admits that the book’s very title is a grammar lesson: …

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Punctuation or Chaos

Posted on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, at 9:43 am

She said I saved the company No one knows for sure what the above sentence means. It consists of six everyday words, and the first five are monosyllables, yet this simple declarative sentence has at least three quite different meanings—maybe more, because with no period on the end, the reader can’t even be sure the …

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The Elusive En Dash

Posted on Tuesday, April 14, 2015, at 3:40 pm

When a compound adjective precedes a noun it is describing, we often need a hyphen: prize-winning recipe, twentieth-century literature. If a compound adjective comprises more than two words, we use as many hyphens as are needed: a three-day-old newspaper, a dyed-in-the-wool snob. But try to punctuate the compound adjectives in these phrases: a New York based artist, a …

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