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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Criminal Sentence 49: Annoying Little Hyphens

From the instructions on a coffee maker I saw while waiting for coffee this morning:

"There are controls on the left and right-hand sides of the machine" (or something to that effect).

In this sentence, the word "left" is sort of hanging there unattached. It goes with "hand" as does "right," which has a hyphen already. When you have more than one word that is part of a compound word, all need a hyphen. So it should be "left- and right-hand sides."

Another example:

"An eight-, six- and five-year-old attended the party."

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