To Hyphenate or Not? Consistency is a Major Key.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

According to Internet searches, the jury is still out on whether to hyphenate terms like "warm-up" when they are the subject or object in a sentence.  Most would agree that the hyphen is needed when "warm-up" is used as an adjective, and everyone should agree that there is no hyphen when "warm up" is the verb and adverb.

Consider these excerpts from an advertisement for Timberline Golf Club in a recent issue of "Shop280.com & Beyond" in its printed form:

"The best scenario would be to show up to the golf course one hour early and go through your pre-round warm-up.  A pre-round warm up should include: stretching, wedges, short irons, mid irons, long irons, fairway woods, driver, pitching, chipping then putting….Make it a point to warm-up before your next round."

Golf pro Joe Kruse needed to make up his mind about the subject/object use.  In the first sentence, "warm-up" is the object of the preposition "through."  In the second sentence, "warm up" is the subject.  Although either form could be considered correct at this point, CONSISTENCY is important.  Which is it for the subject/object form?  WARM-UP or WARM UP?  Or could it be even a third alternative–WARMUP.  My personal choice (at present) is "warm-up," which is how the noun form is listed in the dog-eared American Heritage Dictionary on my desk.

The final sentence in the ad has a definite Grammar Glitch because "warm-up" should NEVER be hyphenated when it is a verb followed by an adverb.  They are two separate things that cannot be joined by a hyphen.

BONUS POINT #1: It is NOT necessary to place a colon after "include" when it appears in a sentence.

BONUS POINT #2: The second sentence in this ad also contains a parallel structure Grammar Glitch.  All elements in a series should be in the same format.  If "stretching" and "pitching, chipping then putting" are in the same format, the writer should add an "ing" form when talking about the various clubs.  How about the word "practicing"?

BONUS POINT #3: The commas in the second sentence of this ad are confusing.  A little more "creative comma grouping" would help.

Here are my best edits for improving this paragraph:

"The best scenario would be to show up to the golf course one hour early and go through your pre-round warm-up.  A pre-round warm-up should include stretching, practicing shots with various clubs (wedges, short irons, mid irons, long irons, fairway woods, and driver), then pitching, chipping and putting….Make it a point to warm up before your next round."

Hope my Grammar Glitch suggestions improve your writing.  Joe Kruse's warm-up suggestions could also improve your golf game.  You can read the rest of his article in the July/August 2010 issue of Shop280.com & Beyond.

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