Thursday, January 9, 2014

hyphenated words

 An Atlantic Fisherman's Life by B.R. Lynch 

Every work day could be their last. Nine to five is just a dream. Freezing spray, driving winds and menacing federal regulations aren’t the only things hitting them in the face.

Question from the e-mail:  Our reader's group spent most of the hour last week arguing about whether good-looking should get a hyphen or is just plain words. Thought I'd ask you, my old writing teacher, before going next time...

Answer: Nice to hear from you Corina. I'm no expert at grammar, as these posts will surely show, but to me it certainly gets a hyphen. A person can be described as good, but not as looking (a verb).

Hyphens are used to join words that would otherwise be individual, but that take on new meaning when hyphenated. Words like self-esteem, no-nonsense, and, yes, good-looking. One way to decide if a hyphen is needed is to ask yourself whether the phrase would make sense if you applied the two words individually.   


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