Regular reader Joe C. sent along this odd caption, which suggests the exact opposite of what it is supposed to convey. More and more small farms in Florida are now using ROBOTS to milk COWS. However, by inserting a hyphen between ROBOT and MILKING, the caption writer created an adjective (ROBOT-MILKING), which describes the cows. The caption should read something like this: ROBOTS NOW MILKING COWS.
Posts Tagged ‘hyphens’
Grammar Glitch returns once more to subject/verb agreement. Here is a sentence that appeared in an article about the recent Secret Service scandal:
The agency enjoys vaunted prestige in American popular culture, but the rigors of a protective detail–jet-setting the globe at a moment's notice to protect a dignitary, being on-call around the clock–isn't for everyone.
Whoops! The subject of the second part of this sentence (after BUT) is RIGORS, which is plural. No matter how much wording appears between the dashes, the verb for that part of the sentence is ISN'T, which is singular. It should be AREN'T to go with RIGORS.
NOTE: The phrase ON CALL is written as two separate words that are not hyphenated like JET-SETTING.
The sentence should read this way:
The agency enjoys vaunted prestige in American popular culture, but the rigors of a protective detail–jet-setting the globe at a moment's notice to protect a dignitary, being on call around the clock–aren't for everyone.
A note of welcome to those who participated in my Advanced Business Writing workshops in Troy, Mobile, and Tuscumbia the past two weeks. Note the usage of hyphens and dashes in the example sentence above. We covered this in the workshop.
If you read this blog regularly, you know that one of my pet peeves is misplaced apostrophes. Here is one that appeared in a "People" segment in my local newspaper this week:
Whoops! Brian Kirkendall, vice president of marketing for Hoover vacuum cleaners, can yank all of the Hoover ads, but he is probably not in a position to yank ads for Electrolux and other brands. However, with the apostrophe coming after the S, the implication is that he is yanking ALL vacuum ads for all vacuum makers. Whoever wrote this piece for "People" should have placed the apostrophe before the S so that it referred to Hoover only, which is one vacuum maker.
I would leave out the hyphen between VACUUM and MAKER. I'm probably being picky about that, but it doesn't seem to serve a useful purpose. Here is my version of this sentence:
A Hoover executive who says his wife and mother are big fans of two soap operas canceled by ABC says he is yanking the vacuum maker's ads from the network in protest .
My favorite investment newsletter writer still needs a proofreader. In his January 7 message, I spotted two punctuation errors and a spelling error–a spelling error that might be considered politically incorrect (spelling the President's name wrong). Here is the first Glitch, in a sentence about Mitt Romney's chances to become the Republican nominee for President:
Mitt Romney would likely be the strongest candidate, but he carries the "baggage" of being a Mormon. (I am not trying to degrade his religious beliefs, I am just pointing out that some people are planning to use Mitt Romney's religion against him in the coming campaign).
Whoops! The entire last sentence here is within the parentheses. Therefore, the period should be INSIDE the parentheses.
A HYPHEN IS HALF AS LONG AS A DASH, AND NO WHITE SPACE ALLOWED WITH EITHER ONE
Many of us, including this newsletter writer, forget that there is a difference in size and purpose between a hyphen and a dash. A hyphen should only be used to link parts of some compound words, like long-term or t-shirt. Please note that a hyphen is HALF AS LONG AS A DASH. The dash is used to set apart one phrase or clause in a sentence that should stand out. In the following sentence, the newsletter writer correctly chooses the dash to set off the final part of his sentence, but unfortunately, he puts the shorter hyphen where the dash should be:
Many of the bears like to treat the budget deficit and other long-term factors as risks that are about to come crashing down on America – taking the economy and the stock market into an abyss from which they will never escape.
The newsletter writer also adds "illegal" white space on each side of the tiny hyphen. Here is the rule: A DASH is twice as long as a hyphen, and there should be NO white space on either side of it. The sentence should look this way:
Many of the bears like to treat the budget deficit and other long-term factors as risks that are about to come crashing down on America–taking the economy and the stock market into an abyss from which they will never escape.
PRESIDENT'S NAME SHOULD BE SPELLED CORRECTLY
The final goof in this otherwise well written and informative newsletter is a rather glaring spelling error. In two places in the first two paragraphs, the first name of the President of the United States is spelled BARRACK (as in "barracks," military accommodations) when it should be BARACK.
When to hyphenate and when not to. This is a common issue. Here is a sentence from an article about an art show:
Artists that make their living this way generally end-up with pieces that have been nicked or otherwise damaged in the constant load and unloading that they do.
In this example, END is a verb, and UP is an adverb. They should not be connected by a hyphen. END UP should be treated the same as TWO YEAR OLD. The hyphen would only be used if you were creating an adjective to go in front of a noun, as in A TWO-YEAR-OLD CONTRACT or AN END-UP something or other (I cannot think of a good example for this usage!).
BONUS COMMENT #1: I would suggest changing THAT to WHO when referring to the ARTISTS. (Use WHO for people and THAT for "non-people" things.)
BONUS COMMENT #2: Because UNLOADING ends in ING, I would use parallel structure and use LOADING as well.
Here is my edit for this sentence:
Artists who make their living this way generally end up with pieces that have been nicked or otherwise damaged in the constant loading and unloading that they do.
If you would like additional information about correct hyphen usage, run a Search (lower right corner) for "Hyphen," and see all the posts that come up. Among them should be my posts for November 23, 2010 and March 5, 2009 and October 30, 2008. This is definitely at least an annual issue.
The Fall 2010 issue of Alabama Wellness contains an article about plasma rich protein. Here is one of the sentences from that article:
Platelets are a normal component of blood which compromise about 5-6 percent of the cells in whole blood.
Whoops! COMPROMISE means setlling an issue by each side giving a little. This writer needs the word COMPRISE, which means to be made up of.
I would also make two other minor editing changes to this sentence:
1) Change the word WHICH to AND for clarity. (Platelets ARE a component and COMPRISE–both verbs go back to "platelets.")
2) Use the word TO instead of a hyphen between 5 and 6.
The sentence would then read this way:
Platelets are a normal component of blood and comprise about 5 to 6 percent of the cells in whole blood.
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: