More on Hyphens

Remember that hyphenating words in front of a noun is done to indicate those words form a unit.

…long-range plans…
…old-fashioned ideas…
…five-month-old baby…

When the words are already considered to be a unit, no hyphen is required. This occurs with multiple-word compound nouns.

…real estate transaction…
…social security payments…
…high school diploma…

One trick for hyphens is to test whether the first adjective modifies the combination of the second adjective and the noun. If so, there is no hyphen.

…sunny breakfast room…

First, it is a room; then it is a breakfast room; then it is a breakfast room that is sunny. This equals NO hyphen.

…large green bug…

First, it is a bug; then it is a green bug; then it is a green bug that is large. This equals NO hyphen.

Happy punctuating!


Comments 4

  1. I’m finding people are using the word “plus” more, as in, “I worked there five plus years.” I want to put a hyphen between five and plus, but I can’t find a rule for that.

    1. Post

      You are right, Robin. It needs a hyphen as it becomes a part of the number. It isn’t just “five”; it is “five-plus.” It is the same with “50-some” and “50-some-odd.”

      Have a good day.


    1. Post

      Yes, I would say that “right arm” is a recognized combination and would not hyphenate it in front of a noun.

      Have a lovely evening.


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