Use the hyphen to join two or more words serving as a single modifier before a noun. We use hyphens to clarify how multiple modifiers function before a noun.
Example 1 - You might not know it on first seeing her, but she is a well-known author.
Example 2 - That novelty shop on the boardwalk sells chocolate-covered peanuts.
Example 3 - Last night Ms. Munoz attended a high-school prom-night fundraiser.
If each word works separately to modify a noun, they are not hyphenated. We also do not use a hyphen when the compound modifiers come after a noun.
Example 1 - The old manor house was covered with creeping green Wisteria.
In this case, “creeping” is not modifying “green”; both words work as separate modifiers to describe “Wisteria.”
Example 2 - You might not know it on first seeing her, but the author is well known.
Example 3 - That novelty shop on the boardwalk sells peanuts that are chocolate covered.
For each sentence, insert missing hyphens or omit unnecessary hyphens.
- I have nothing to wear for my job interview but a paint splattered tie.
- Those ragged-old clothes I got from the attic were moth-ridden.
- Shelia’s cat brought home a mouse that was scared-stiff but otherwise unharmed.
- The recycling bin was filled with empty-plastic water bottles.
- Walter said I could use his, even though it was dog-eared and had missing pages.