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Hyphenate middle grade?

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Dionna

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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?
#1 - March 21, 2016, 07:41 PM

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I would say that, traditionally, when those terms are used as compound adjectives, they should be hyphenated. That said, it is often not done.

#2 - March 21, 2016, 07:51 PM
BUSY-EYED DAY (Beach Lane Books, 2018)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
VAMPIRINA AT THE BEACH (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
among others

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Agreeing with Anne Marie. I think technically it's supposed to be but isn't most of the time.
#3 - March 21, 2016, 08:32 PM
'Vehicle Dreams Series' Running Press Kids
Race Car Dreams 2016
Bulldozer Dreams 2017
Fire Truck Dreams 2018
The Sparrow and The Trees- Arbordale 2015

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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.
#4 - March 21, 2016, 08:55 PM

There's been a lot of M.I.A. hyphens ever since desk-top publishing. (Drives me nuts.)
#5 - March 22, 2016, 05:53 AM
Imagination is more important than knowledge. Einstein.

Chicago Manual says no unless used before a noun as a compound adjective (mentioned earlier).
“He is Japanese American.” vs. “The Japanese-American soldier…”
#6 - March 22, 2016, 08:15 AM

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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.
#7 - March 22, 2016, 08:38 AM
Adventures of Jenna V. Series
Caroline Grade Mysteries
The Journey of Emilie
Anne Bradstreet: America's Puritan Poet
www.marciahoehne.com

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?
#8 - March 22, 2016, 11:37 AM

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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.
#9 - March 23, 2016, 10:42 AM
THE VOICE OF THUNDER, WiDo Publishing Aug 2012
THERE'S A TURKEY AT THE DOOR, Hometown520 July 2011

www.mirkabreen.com
http://mirkabreen.BlogSpot.com

Dionna

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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!
#10 - March 24, 2016, 06:00 PM

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Yep, just adding a thumbs up for what mrh said.
#11 - March 25, 2016, 06:59 PM
Harold Underdown

The Purple Crayon, a children's book editor's site: http://www.underdown.org/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/HUnderdown

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