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  1. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970

    Re: To hyphenate or not?

    You're most welcome, zu_rits.

    Given that one authority - two, if we count your colleague - accepts the hyphen, then what or who's to say it's not possible? If I were you, I'd note the variation, and move on. Knowledge is power.
    Last edited by Casiopea; 06-Apr-2006 at 17:34.

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970

    Re: To hyphenate or not?

    I prefer the hyphen, Elewina, which isn't to say sans hyphen is unacceptable. Apparently, given your sources, we've a choice. As you may known, hyphens have a life of their own. Initially, a hyphen is introduced to add cohension, and once settled in its orthographic place, writers begin to omit it for sake of efficiency. It's viewed as no longer necessary (the assumption being, the units it ties together have evolved into a single cohesive unit) which is a process of language change that's seen elsewhere in the grammar; i.e., omitted phrases and words; e.g., the conjunction "that". The hyphen is like a conjunction, right? How many writers and speakers still add in the conjunctive "that"? It has it's purpose in some sentences, but not all. It's fading away. Language change like that, even something as small as a puntuation mark, takes time. While some writers maintain, say, the hyphen, others will omit it, in the same way that some use "that" and some omit it. In the end, as long as writers are consistent in their use, there shouldn't be a problem. The hyphen has one purpose only: to ease the reader's burden. And that in itself should be our only guide. Personally, I find "level-headedness" more reader friendly.

    All the best.
    Last edited by Casiopea; 06-Apr-2006 at 17:39.

  3. #13

    Re: To hyphenate or not?

    the same to you, Casiopeia

  4. #14

    Re: To hyphenate or not?

    Sorry, I hope it is my last doubt in the subject:

    the 5th-level exam or the 5th level exam?

    To me, the first one looks better.

    Is the fifth-level here what is called a compound adjective (the one constitued of a noun and a numeral)?


  5. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970

    Re: To hyphenate or not?

    The ultimate rule is this. If the phrase lends itself to ambiguity then use a hyphen:

    Interpretation #1: [a 5th level] exam
    Interpretation #2: a 5th [level exam]

    Now, since the concept "level exam" doesn't exist, the phrase "a 5th level exam" doesn't lend itself to ambiguity. So, is a hyphen really all that necessary in that context?

  6. #16

    Re: To hyphenate or not?


    But, as a non-native speaker, I have a feeling that with a hyphen it is much easier read.
    It connects two out of three words constructing the long noun phrase and from that you know it is just a form of an adjective preceeding a noun, not three independent words. To my inexperienced eyes it looks like there is a specific bound between these two words "5th" and "level". But I am sure you are wright and I am wrong.

    Still, do you English teachers consider using a hyphen in wrong places a serious spelling mistake? I mean, may it be used against me during an English exam?


  7. #17

    Re: To hyphenate or not?

    I am still searching this topic.

    I have learnt that phrases noun-noun (f.i. time billing or computer writing) should be depraved of hyphens. What if we are dealing with a phrase that consists of three nouns:

    a court fee mark
    a tax fee mark?

    To me, in this case, the tighter word connection exists between court/tax and fee. Should I put a hyphen in between?


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