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Writing, Illustrating & Publishing => The Craft of Writing => The Art of Grammar => Topic started by: Dionna on March 21, 2016, 07:41 PM

Title: Hyphenate middle grade?
Post by: Dionna on March 21, 2016, 07:41 PM
Are we to hyphenate words like picture-book, middle-grade, young-adult, science-fiction, historical-fiction, Japanese-American....?

I thought I always should, but I've noticed I hyphenate way more often than others do. I thought the hyphen was needed b/c the two words do not describe the noun separately. It's not a middle book and a grade book, but a middle-grade book. But now I'm wondering if I'm hyphenating needlessly.

What say you?
Title: Re: Hyphenate middle grade?
Post by: Anne Marie on March 21, 2016, 07:51 PM
I would say that, traditionally, when those terms are used as compound adjectives, they should be hyphenated. That said, it is often not done.

Title: Re: Hyphenate middle grade?
Post by: Schriscoe on March 21, 2016, 08:32 PM
Agreeing with Anne Marie. I think technically it's supposed to be but isn't most of the time.
Title: Re: Hyphenate middle grade?
Post by: Mindy Alyse Weiss on March 21, 2016, 08:55 PM
I've seen it both ways. I think that as long as you stay consistent with the way you use it in a blog or other writing, you can choose which one works best for you.
Title: Re: Hyphenate middle grade?
Post by: Arona on March 22, 2016, 05:53 AM
There's been a lot of M.I.A. hyphens ever since desk-top publishing. (Drives me nuts.)
Title: Re: Hyphenate middle grade?
Post by: BonnieJoy on March 22, 2016, 08:15 AM
Chicago Manual says no unless used before a noun as a compound adjective (mentioned earlier).
“He is Japanese American.” vs. “The Japanese-American soldier…”
Title: Re: Hyphenate middle grade?
Post by: mrh on March 22, 2016, 08:38 AM
Yes, the hyphen belongs if the term is being used as a compound adjective preceding a noun. The example, middle-grade book, would be correct, but many would leave the hyphen out and consider it fine.

But you would write, "He writes historical fiction," or "He writes picture books." No compound adjectives there. No hyphens.

My favorite grammar/punctuation book, GRAMMATICALLY CORRECT, states that you don't hyphenate a compound adjective that comes AFTER the noun. For example, "Easy-to-follow instructions," but "instructions that are easy to follow." I see writers make similar mistakes with characters' ages. We've learned to write "eight-year-old Jenny," so now we turn that into "Jenny is eight-years-old," and that's wrong.

The exception would be if a term has made it into the dictionary as a hyphenated word and the hyphen is therefore a permanent part of the spelling.
Title: Re: Hyphenate middle grade?
Post by: HDWestlund on March 22, 2016, 11:37 AM
Here's a link to Grammar Girl's take on the subject: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/how-to-use-a-hyphen

On the second page, she addresses what I was always told as a copy editor: Hyphens are for adding clarity, but are not grammatically necessary when the meaning is clear. While you are technically correct to hyphenate "middle-grade literature," it is not necessary to hyphenate because the phrase is well-understood (hee!) without the hyphen. You would not be confused and think that "middle" was describing "literature," so it is fine to use the phrase without a hyphen. But it is also correct to use it with.

Have we confused you enough?
Title: Re: Hyphenate middle grade?
Post by: 217mom on March 23, 2016, 10:42 AM
We've learned to write "eight-year-old Jenny," so now we turn that into "Jenny is eight-years-old," and that's wrong.


As  compulsive over-hyphenater (  :embarrassed2 ) I have so done that. Ouch.
Title: Re: Hyphenate middle grade?
Post by: Dionna on March 24, 2016, 06:00 PM
Thanks oodles, all, for the comments and for the link, HD. I love the simplicity of the explanation you gave, MRH! I totally get that.

Happy hyphenating!
Title: Re: Hyphenate middle grade?
Post by: HaroldU on March 25, 2016, 06:59 PM
Yep, just adding a thumbs up for what mrh said.