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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Criminal Sentence 275: Shaped

From a book I read:

"He squeezed the rock and felt that it was oval-shaped..."

This has two problems: it's wordy and it has an incorrect hyphen.

First, you don't need to say something is circle shaped or square shaped or oval shaped. Those words describe shapes.

Second, When a compound adjective follows a noun, you don't need the hyphen. Only when two or more words link together to describe a noun before the noun do you use a hyphen:

The ten-foot-high fence was in the way. (hyphens join the words that describe "fence")
The fence was ten feet high. (no hyphens because the words come after "fence")

This sentence would have been better like this:

"He squeezed the rock and felt that it was oval..."


Jenifer said...

I don't know why, because I know that oval is an adjective as well as a noun, but "it was oval" just sounds wrong. "It was square" sounds perfectly fine, but, of course, you wouldn't say, "It was circle." You'd use circular or round. Same with triangle. Maybe it's just a matter of not hearing it often.

ambero said...

The use of the word "squeezed" strikes me as odd. Doesn't "squeeze" imply compression? I'm not sure what would be better--maybe grasped, clasped, or just felt? Or maybe it's just me...