More about Hyphens

What do you think of this sentence?

Jeff, a fifth-grade teacher, will soon be moving into his newly-painted house. 

Hyphens can be slippery! I want to make two points today. First, don’t use a hyphen with an adverb (a word ending in -ly). But note that hyphens are okay with well: a well-written story. (Some writers don’t use them, though. I told you hyphens are slippery!)

Jeff, a fifth-grade teacher, will soon be moving into his newly painted house.  CORRECT

Second, hyphens tend to disappear over time. The Associated Press recommends dropping hyphens when there’s no possibility of confusion. If you agree with the AP (as I do!), you can drop the hyphen in fifth grade teacher.

Jeff, a fifth grade teacher, will soon be moving into his newly painted house.  ALSO CORRECT

open can of paint on a wooden background


2 thoughts on “More about Hyphens

  1. Avatarja

    Here is a passage from Grammar Girl ( In a paper titled “The Myth of FANBOYS,” Brett Reynolds writes that his earliest find for the mnemonic is in a 1951 book called Learning to Write. Since then, membership in the class of coordinating conjunctions has to some extent crystallized around the seven that FANBOYS covers, but Reynolds points out that there hasn’t always been agreement. Some of the lists he cites include all the “fanboys” conjunctions plus whereas. Another list leaves out yet and so. Still another list includes a few transition words and phrases, such as however, only, still, therefore, and then.

  2. Avatarballroomdancer Post author

    Thanks for the interesting information! I usually focus only on and and but. I don’t see any point in practicing with all seven words. It’s interesting how many viewpoints there are.
    Whereas seems to me to be a legitimate addition to the seven traditional FANBOYS – but I can’t imagine anyone using such an old-fashioned word in 2019!
    I’m aghast, though, that someone is apparently teaching students that it’s okay to combine sentences with however, only, still therefore, and then – plus a comma. Most English teachers (I’m one of them) consider that a serious mistake. But so many people do it that perhaps it will soon be time to start marking it wrong.

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