Tuesday’s Writing Tips: Hyphen

Tuesday’s Writing Tips 

The Elements of Style

It’s time for another writing tip from the book The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White.

When two or more words are combined to form a compound adjective, a hyphen is usually required. “He belonged to the leisure class and enjoyed leisure-class pursuits.” “She entered her boat in the round-the-island race.”

Don’t use a hyphen between words that can better be written as one word: water-fowl, waterfowl. Common sense will aid you in the decision, but a dictionary is more reliable. The steady evolution of the language seems to favor union: two words eventually become one, usually after a period of hyphenation:

  1. bed chamber, bed-chamber, bedchamber
  2. wild life, wild-life, wildlife
  3. bell boy, bell-boy, bellboy

The hyphen can play tricks on the unwary, as it did in Chattanooga when two newspapers merged—The Chattanooga News and the Free Press. Someone introduced a hyphen in to the merger, and the paper became The Chattanooga News-Free Press, which sounds as though the paper were news-free, or devoid of news. Obviously, we ask too much of a hyphen when we ask it to cast its spell over words it does not adjoin.

Today, I leave you with a quote from Napoleon Hill.

“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.”

patience haiku


Today’s Haiku

close your eyes open your soul
envision your dream


How is your patience level today?


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