Let’s Learn English Grammar, Lesson 5
Please be aware I’m not a teacher, I’m learning about grammar using these posts and hope some of you will learn along with me as I seek out the British English grammar on the internet. I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that American English grammar rules differ from English grammar taught in the United Kingdom, as do Australian, Canadian, and many other countries using English. Here we go then with British English grammar.
The following information is quoted from the source below. I hope you find it useful.
Grammar and Style in British English:
A Comprehensive Guide for Students, Writers and Academics
“Linking Compound Adjectives
“At 5′ 7″, the short-story writer O. Henry might also be described as a short story writer, but the two descriptions are clearly different. In this capacity,
the hyphen shows that the adjectives express one idea (a light-brown overcoat) rather than two (a light brown overcoat). But hyphenation usually occurs only in the attributive (when the compound precedes the noun) –
She is a well-known actor
They are law-abiding citizens
Jane is a soft-hearted woman
The dress has an eye-catching pattern
“Compound adjectives are not usually hyphenated in the predicative (when they come after the noun or pronoun) –
She’s an actor well known
Most people are law abiding
Jane is soft hearted
The pattern on the dress is eye catching
“Exceptions are compounds beginning with ill, mid and self, which are hyphenated in all circumstances –
an ill-conceived idea (attributive)
an idea ill-conceived (predicative)
a mid-life crisis (attributive)
a crisis of mid-life (predicative)
a self-evident truth (attributive)
a truth that is self-evident (predicative)
“In a series of related compound adjectives (e.g. first-class, second-class, third-class), we generally drop the second component in all but the last instance. But although the rule is rarely followed, the hyphen (called a trailing hyphen) should appear in all instances –
British universities award first-, second- and third-class degrees on their three- and four-year courses.
“Hyphens are not used with compounds whose first components are ly-ending adverbs –
an easily understood lesson
readily available ingredients
a commonly cited example
“Linking Compound Nouns
“Most compound nouns are either open (bus stop, clothes line, post office, swimming pool) or closed (boyfriend, mastermind, toothpaste, wallpaper), but a few are hyphenated, often to avoid unsightly spelling –
“Compounds with the suffix room are usually closed when the first component is monosyllabic –
(but box room)
“and open when the first component has more than one syllable –
“The latter are hyphenated only as noun-adjective compounds (nouns describing other nouns) –
We need new dining-room furniture.
(See also compound nouns.)
“Linking Prefixes to Words
“There is unfortunately no consistency in this use of the hyphen –
“Only a dictionary or familiarity with the words can decide. It is, however, crucial to use a hyphen after the prefix re where not to do so would create another word with a different meaning –
“re-form (shape anew); reform (improve)
re-bound (bound anew); rebound (bounce, reverberate)
re-cover (cover anew); recover (recuperate)
“(For a more extensive list, see re, re-.)
“Hyphens are also normally used when the prefix is a single (often capitalised) letter –
“e-mail (but now usually email)
“Linking Repetitive, or Almost Repetitive, Words
“These are generally confined to informal English –
“Linking Compound Numbers
“The hyphen is also used to link the following kinds of number.
“Cardinal compounds between and including twenty-one and ninety-nine –
“but not above this –
three hundred thousand
“Ordinal compounds between twenty-first and ninety-ninth –
“but, again, not above this –
“The dash, however, not the hyphen, is used to span calendar years and page ranges –
“(See also numbers.)
“Linking People’s Names
The Cambridge Dictionaries Online states:
“However, hyphens are becoming less common and people often … do not separate compound words at all. A common word with a hyphen such as post-box will also be seen as post box and postbox.
It is important to check the spelling of compound words in a good learner’s dictionary.”
Promoting Authors, Artists, and poets
http://Add your website here.
Copy and paste the list above and add it to your next post. This will promote your website and others.
I’ve never thought so much about hyphens until today. My name originally had a hyphen but it has disappeared over the years. I also have a problem with spellcheck functions, it doesn’t seem to like the hyphen and keeps altering the word!
Do you have it set to your correct country? I have an earlier post I reblogged from another knowledgable blogger all about Spellcheck in word. She shows you how to change from American English to British English or vice versa. Thanks for your comment.
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Carole, Thank you so much for another informative post!
You’re welcome, and thanks for taking the time to comment.
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Hi Carole, love your posts, they’re a big help.
Not sure if its my phone or your last two posts but the font colour is yellow and I’m struggling to read it. 😀
Oh! Thank you for enlightening me Elle. I did it deliberately, as I thought it would make it clearer. Sorry about that, and I’m so glad you let me know. I’ll go back to my old style for the next posts.
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Thank you for providing a link to my post; it’s very helpful.
That’s a good informative post. Hyphenated words, and especially compound adjectives catch out a lot of people.
One of the other issues to take into account is how words change over time, so they may start off as two separate words, then become hyphenated and then one word.
So, all anyone can do is to check around a variety of sources and decide on the most appropriate usage, which may also be influenced by the national style guides eg Brit or American.
In some cases, there really are alternatives and no absolutes if a word/s are in flux.
You are absolutely spot on there. I did add that little bit of advice, about checking it out if unsure, right at the end. Our language is evolving and I’m finding some of the things I learned are now obsolete. By refreshing my memory, I’m learning lots of new–to me– stuff about grammar.
Trying to remember what you said about quotation marks for every paragraph, so I used them in that post. I hope it was riight. 🙂
Technically you did. Except in this case I’d have used the wordpress blockquote function.
What’s that? Showing my ignorance again.
Cannot refresh too often. 🙂
It’s whether it sticks in the mind or not that counts. It’s a lot to remember, and that’s why we need these refreshers. 🙂
I absolutely agree!
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