Sunday, September 2, 2007

A few words about the hyphen

Here are some types of sentences I'm seeing more and more:

  • Let's kick-off the school year in style.
  • Please drop-in to see our new offices.
  • Sign-up today for the parents' group.

The problem with these sentences is that they misuse hyphens. You can hyphenate the two words if you're using them as an adjective modifying a noun or pronoun, but you shouldn't when they're being used as a verb.

For example:

  • We're having a drop-in event so everyone can see the new offices. (drop-in modifies event)
  • Here's the sign-up sheet for the parents' group. (sign-up modifies sheet)
  • The kick-off (or kickoff) time is 2:00 (kick-off modifies time)

The world will not spin out of its orbit if you use hyphens improperly, but doing it right is the sign of a careful writer.

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