Tag Archives: hyphens

#EngKnowledge: Hyphens (-) and Compound Adjectives

Good evening, fellas! For you in Indonesia, how was your holiday? It’s cool to have a holiday in the middle of the week, right! I had a restaurant-hopping holiday! Well, I met with some of my good-hearted friends and it was fun! What did you do today?

Did you notice how I used a hyphen between restaurant and hopping also between good and hearted? Let’s talk about hyphens. Hyphens are used to link words and parts of words. It’s this one: (-) and not this one (–) or even this one (—). The length is the different. A hyphen (-) is shorter than En Dash (–) or Em Dash (—). There are several uses of hyphens, but let’s focus on how to use hyphens with compound adjectives.

Compound adjectives are two or more words that together make an adjective. Compound adjectives are made up of a noun + an adjective, a noun + a participle, or an adjective + a participle. When they come directly before a noun, they’re known as compound modifiers and usually have a hyphen, like “a restaurant-hopping day.”

Here are a few more examples:
1. A marriage is a long-term commitment.
2. You need to wear a fire-proof vest to go inside the factory.

If the adjectives come after the noun, then they don’t need a hyphen. For example: The vest is fire proof.

Sometimes, the placement of a hyphen changes the meaning of your sentence. Let’s say you want a “hot-water bottle.” With a hyphen between “hot” and “water” you clearly want a water bottle for holding hot water because “hot” and “water” are joined by a hyphen. Without the hyphen between “hot” and “water, you might want a water bottle that is hot. See how the presence or absence of a hyphen could change the meaning?

Compiled for @EnglishTips4U on Wednesday, 15 October, 2015.