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Friday, December 11, 2009

Criminal Sentence 314: Hyphen help

From a book I just finished:

"[The company] wants each new employee evaluated at thirty, sixty, and ninety-day intervals..."

When you have a compound adjective such as "ninety-day," you need a hyphen, as the author so nicely included. You also need a hyphen with the other numbers since they all modify "intervals": thirty-, sixty-, and ninety-day intervals."

The beginning two hyphens seem to just be hanging there, but they're waiting to be partnered up with "day" later in the sentence. You could repeat "day" three times, but that wouldn't sound so good.

1 comment:

Pat said...

The sentence makes no sense. "At thirty-day intervals" means every thirty days. If evaluations are held every thirty days, that automatically means that they are held every sixty and ninety days as well. It's redundant to say all three.

The sentence also does not state whether the every-thirty-days evaluations will continue indefinitely, or stop after the third evaluation. Depending on which meaning is valid, the sentence should be rewritten to say either:

"[The company] wants each new employee evaluated at thirty-day intervals..."


"[The company] wants each new employee evaluated after thirty, sixty, and ninety days..."