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Numbers as Adjectives

A subscriber recently wrote in with a question thatís a good followup to last weekís Tip of the Week, Writing Numbers:
ďWhen are hyphens used with numbers? Is it 13 feet or 13-feet; 12 hours or 12-hours?Ē

Rule: Generally, hyphenate between two or more adjectives when they come before a noun and act as a single idea.

This rule can also be applied when a number and a measurement unit taken together form an adjective, that is, when they describe another object.

Examples:
A 22-inch monitor is too big for my desk.
Nurses work 12-hour shifts.
Anthony swung his five-pound hammer.
In the previous sentences, the measurements, such as 22-inch, describe specific objects, such as monitor.

When measurements are not acting as adjectives, hyphens are not needed.

Examples:
Suzanne won the race by 25 yards.
Twelve hours later, she was exhausted.
Anthonyís hammer weighs five pounds.

Due to the E-Newsletter's large readership, we are only able to respond to individual English usage questions if submitted through GrammarBook.com's "Grammar Blog."


Pop Quiz

Scroll down to see answers.

Choose A or B.

1. A. I canít believe she wrote a 33-page treatise on how to screw in a light bulb.
1. B. I canít believe she wrote a 33 page treatise on how to screw in a light bulb.

2. A. I canít believe she wrote 33-pages on how to screw in a light bulb.
2. B. I canít believe she wrote 33 pages on how to screw in a light bulb.

3. A. Harold found a 110-year-old book at the flea market.
3. B. Harold found a 110 year old book at the flea market.

4. A. Harold found a book that must have been 110-years-old at the flea market.
4. B. Harold found a book that must have been 110 years old at the flea market.


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Wordplay

Only in America do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.

Only in America do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.

Only in America do we have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering.


Pop Quiz Answers

1.A.
2.B.
3.A.
4.B.


68 One-Minute English Usage Videos

English In A Snap: 68 One-Minute English Usage Videos FREE 

Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.


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