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Personally, I think quotes are best, but lately, I'm hearing that quotes are incorrect and dashes should be used between the words. What say you?

damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don't

or

"damned if you do and damned if you don't"

By the way, I love your website.

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Those aren’t dashes — they’re hyphens. Hyphens are for joining, dashes for separating. –  tchrist Mar 10 '13 at 16:29
    
@jwpat7 Interesting point; I wonder whether this doesn’t merit a posting on Meta. –  tchrist Mar 10 '13 at 16:58
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I would only use hyphens when using these phrases as nouns or adjectives, as in a damned-if-you-do situation, or this is a case of damned-if-you-do. Otherwise I see no reason for the hyphens. Nor do I think the quotation marks would serve any purpose. –  Cerberus Mar 10 '13 at 17:12
    
Yes, sorry - - hyphens, for sure. NOT dashes. Thank you for the replies. –  user39212 Mar 10 '13 at 19:08
    
Perhaps examples would help - - which sentence do you think is correct? A. Her boyfriend felt he was in a damned-if-I-do, damned-if-I-don't situation. B. Her boyfriend felt he was in a damned if I do, damned if I don't situation. –  user39212 Mar 10 '13 at 19:19
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marked as duplicate by tchrist, jwpat7, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, Kris, kiamlaluno Mar 11 '13 at 19:30

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2 Answers

If "damned if you do and damned if you don't" isn't being used an adjective, don't hyphenate anything.

This is a tricky situation. You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.

If the phrase is being used as an adjective, hyphenate the whole thing.

This is one of those tricky you're-damned-if-you-do-and-you're-damned-if-you-don't situations.

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It really depends on the mode of usage.

Tommy said he did it because "I love my spouse".

OTOH, equally comprehensive,

Tommy said he did it because he is an I-love-my-spouse kind of guy.

Another example,

She confronted us by saying "Over my dead body."

And equally descriptive,

We encountered the over-my-dead-body confrontation with her.

Therefore,

"We are in dire straits here. We are up against a rock and a hard place. Damn if we do and damn if we don't."

We could narrate their experience with,

They felt they were in a between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place situation and a damn-if-they-do-damn-if-they-don't dilemma.

It depends on whether you are quoting direct speech, or using the phrase as an adjective.

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If you're giving a direct quote, even mistakes should be faithfully reproduced. –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 10 '13 at 22:38
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protected by RegDwigнt Mar 10 '13 at 19:31

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