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Should This Be Hyphenated? (1 Viewer)

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
I keep going back to this because (you guessed it) Word tells me there's a problem here and suggests 'opened' is passive.

Her nose folded into mosaicked flesh, only thin slits now that opened and closed as she breathed.

It strikes me that, although it's two verbs, the actual imagery is singular:

Her nose folded into mosaicked flesh, only thin slits now that opened-and-closed as she breathed.
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
So word is throwing me out again?
There are some words/phrases which are always hyphenated, because their usage has come to make them one thing, like 'father-in-law'.

The difference JBF describes has to do with whether or not the words modify another word. The rule there is that if both (or all) modifiers can stand on their own, no hyphen is needed. If they cannot, you hyphenate them.

So "the cool blue water" doesn't hyphenate 'cool' and 'blue', because either 'cool water' or 'blue water' makes sense.

But 'the quick-witted student' gets a hyphen, because while 'the quick student' could make sense, 'the witted student' would not ... so they are joined as one hyphenated word.
 

TL Murphy

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
If it was an adjective you would hyphenate, as in : “opened-and-closed slits”. But the determiner “that” works as a relative pronoun here which refers to ”slits - so “slits opened and closed”. These are 2 active verbs.
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
There are some words/phrases which are always hyphenated, because their usage has come to make them one thing, like 'father-in-law'.

The difference JBF describes has to do with whether or not the words modify another word. The rule there is that if both (or all) modifiers can stand on their own, no hyphen is needed. If they cannot, you hyphenate them.

So "the cool blue water" doesn't hyphenate 'cool' and 'blue', because either 'cool water' or 'blue water' makes sense.

But 'the quick-witted student' gets a hyphen, because while 'the quick student' could make sense, 'the witted student' would not ... so they are joined as one hyphenated word.

If it was an adjective you would hyphenate, as in : “opened-and-closed slits”. But the determiner “that” works as a relative pronoun here which refers to ”slits - so “slits opened and closed”. These are 2 active verbs.
I'd actually got it right. It's just that Word makes me doubt some things. I don't want to turn off the grammar checker because sometimes it does point me in the right direction. It seems though, more often than not, it doesn't.
 

Phil Istine

WF Veterans
I'm as sure as I can be that hyphenation would be wrong in this instance and the reasons have been covered.
Although Word is often a fair guide, it's definitely fallible. Human intuition is usually better.
 

Bloggsworth

WF Veterans
A clumsy sentence - Noses flare as you breath in, no need to mention that she also breathes out. Open and closed sounds like the working hours of a shop. If you must, perhaps "relaxed."
 
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clark

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
As others have pointed out, the OP--with no hyphens--is correct for that sentence. Vranger's #4 gives the tried-and-true guideline for ferreting out those pesky compound adjectives and Tim nails the grammar. Using compound adjectives properly, avec hyphens, is often essential to meaning and clarity. What Word is getting at, I have no idea. How about just being Wrong. The 'correct writing' programs--Word, Grammarly, etc.--are annoyingly conservative and frequently miss nuances. I'm reminded of ESL (properly now EAL, for 'Additional') students who would rattle off all the rules, say, for the subjunctive better than I could, but could not use the form correctly in a sentence.

Phil--I agree that your OP is awkward. Finding another way to express the thought is probably the best strategy.
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
As others have pointed out, the OP--with no hyphens--is correct for that sentence. Vranger's #4 gives the tried-and-true guideline for ferreting out those pesky compound adjectives and Tim nails the grammar. Using compound adjectives properly, avec hyphens, is often essential to meaning and clarity. What Word is getting at, I have no idea. How about just being Wrong. The 'correct writing' programs--Word, Grammarly, etc.--are annoyingly conservative and frequently miss nuances. I'm reminded of ESL (properly now EAL, for 'Additional') students who would rattle off all the rules, say, for the subjunctive better than I could, but could not use the form correctly in a sentence.

Phil--I agree that your OP is awkward. Finding another way to express the thought is probably the best strategy.
Yeah, I'd sat there for an age looking at the little blue line. I prefer leaving the grammar checker on (at least for now) because I do have a few weaknesses still as far as grammar is concerned, and it gives me questions to ask even if Word gets it wrong. What I use it for most is to highlight passive sentences. Most times it gets that right.
 
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