Janice Hall Heck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

A to Z Challenge, 2014: G is for Gobs of Hyphens Used Correctly


atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

Oh Heck! More Quirky Writing Errors

What do writers and brown bears have in common?

I could probably come up with some good analogies, but the truth is that I found gobs of hyphenated words in two different articles (one a blog post on writing, the other a newspaper article about brown bears) and wanted to share them in this post. See my previous articles about hyphenated words here:

D is for Deep-Fried Hyphens

F is for Freshly Squeezed Adverbs

Phrasal adjectives that need a hyphen

attention-getting commercial
cost-prohibitive place
front-row seat
high-definition webcam
mate-swapping brown bears
multi-published, bestselling authors
recently-discovered secret
post-deadline catatonic stupor
in-person conference
pre-conference panic attack
worst-case scenario

Jami Gold, “Insights from Bestselling Authors”  (blog post)

Even in the worst-case scenario, where we’re receiving rejections because we’re not yet “good enough,” we can study writing craft and change our fate.

Several multi-published, bestselling authors let me pick their brains and shared great advice (including Christie, Mary, Calista Fox, Erin Quinn, Morgan Kearns, and Jennifer Ashley).

“Famed Katmai National Park (Alaska) brown bears ready for season 2” by Mark Thiessen, Associated Press, The Press of Atlantic City, July, 2013.

A high-definition webcam captures a brown bear as it climbs on top of Brooks Falls for a better angle at salmon swimming upstream in Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska. (photo caption)

Stars snarling at each other, mate-swapping dominant males posturing and establishing their territory.”

Katmai is a cost-prohibitive place to visit…

The new (web) camera is at eye-level of the bears…

Here are more compound adjectives (phrasal adjectives) I gathered from today’s newspaper:

four-level appeals
year-end numbers
Grammy-award-winning singer
non-security-related problems
in-store sales
high-end groceries
anti-freedom crowd
same-sex marriage
inner-city neighborhoods
long-term lease
solar-panel array
post-traumatic stress
tax-rate increase
world-class education
tax-lien sales
Twitter-like network

More examples of adverbs ending in -ly that do not need a hyphen

frequently asked questions
freshly made pastas
gently used items
randomly generated questions
highly regarded citizen

Examples of adverbs not ending in -ly that need hyphens

little-known facts
well-qualified buyers
low-paying jobs
hard-earned money
less-educated workers
best-known writer

Here’s a final thought from the Oxford University Press style manual

“If you take hyphens seriously, you will surely go mad.”

Your turn: What quirky errors do you find in writing? Which ones annoy you the most?

Janice Hall Heck is a retired educator and now nitpicky editor of On the Horizon, a bi-monthly community newsletter for Horizons at Woods Landing, Mays Landing, NJ.



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9 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge, 2014: G is for Gobs of Hyphens Used Correctly

  1. LOL! Yes, I love my hyphens, probably a little too much. 😉 (And don’t get me started on em-dashes.) Thanks for sharing!

  2. Pingback: A to Z Challenge, 2014: Hyperventilating on Hyphens | JaniceHeck

  3. Please don’t judge me by my casual use of grammar and dysfunctional use of hyphens 🙂

    • Looks like you are a good writer to me. I read your post on your “life-long dream” (correctly hyphenated) and liked it. I usually read for content and only stop when I see highly dysfunctional grammar and usage. Your post flowed nicely. Nowadays, styles change rapidly with Internet use, and I find more acceptance of variation in style. Publications still have their own style sheets so variations tend to be fixed by the time of publication.

  4. I’ve found that it’s quite common for people to use hyphens when they’re unsure. Rather than leave the two words as individual pieces of text, the hyphen gets thrown in there because it’s assumed that it will look more impressive.

    • Yes. Hyphens end up in some odd places. There are the rules, and then there are the exceptions. Enough to make you, well, hyperventilate. Thanks for your visit to my blog.

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