Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hyphenating Between Words

Many of us get confused about when to hyphenate between words. For example, should you write nearly-extinct wolves or nearly extinct wolves?

Nearly answers how close to extinct wolves are/were. Adverbs answer the questions how, where, and when.

Adverbs do not get attached to adjectives with hyphens. Therefore, the adverb nearly, like most "ly" words, does not get hyphenated.

Only compound adjectives—adjectives that act as one idea with other adjectives—get hyphenated in front of nouns.

Example: The crowd threw out the barely edible cake.

The word barely is an adverb answering how edible the cake was.

Example: newly diagnosed disease
The word newly is an adverb answering when.

Example: We live in a two-story building.

The word two does not answer how, when, or where. It is acting as one idea with story to describe the noun building. Therefore, two-story is a compound adjective requiring a hyphen.

Example: The announcer offered a blow-by-blow description of the boxers' punches.
Blow-by-blow is acting as one idea. Therefore, it is a compound adjective.

Example: Our building is two stories.

When the description follows the noun, do not hyphenate.


Source: Grammarbook

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Commas Before "and" in a Series

In American English usage, a comma should precede and with three or more items in a series.

Example: I would like to order a salad, a sandwich, and dessert.

Newspapers and magazines do not generally use this rule, as print space is too valuable to use on what might be considered extraneous punctuation. However, print publications will use the final comma before and if it is needed to avoid confusion.

Example: Her $10 million estate was split among her husband, daughter, son, and nephew.

Omitting the comma after son would have led the reader to believe that the son and nephew had to split one-third of the estate (each receiving one-sixth), rather than understanding that each relative received one-fourth of the estate.


Source: Grammarbook

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