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K12 LibreTexts

11.5: Hyphens

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  • 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.

    Review Questions

    For each sentence, insert missing hyphens or omit unnecessary hyphens.

    1. I have nothing to wear for my job interview but a paint splattered tie.
    2. Those ragged-old clothes I got from the attic were moth-ridden.
    3. Shelia’s cat brought home a mouse that was scared-stiff but otherwise unharmed.
    4. The recycling bin was filled with empty-plastic water bottles.
    5. Walter said I could use his, even though it was dog-eared and had missing pages.
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