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Is it chainsaw-equipped or chainsaw equipped? And with what kind of former words to use "-" properly?

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This is a possible duplicate of english.stackexchange.com/questions/2908/… . –  Cerberus Jan 22 '11 at 0:48
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up vote 13 down vote accepted

Hyphens are used to connect words when it's unclear which words are modifying which other words. Connecting the two words that modify each other with a hyphen can make a big difference in the meaning of a sentence.

Compare these different ways of using a hyphen with the same words: A "big-time traveller" is someone who travels a lot. A "big time-traveller" is a large person who can move through time. Very different meanings! Without the hyphen, "big time traveller" could have either meaning.

A similar example is "a man-eating cow". With the hyphen the phrase describes a cow that eats people. Without the hyphen, it describes merely a man eating cow meat: "a man eating cow". (Note that "a man eating-cow" would not be correct, because hyphens and verbs work differently: "a man cow-eating" is technically correct but sounds strange.)

The most common way you will see hyphens used is to combine two words into a single adjective. Examples are "English-speaking Russian", "chainsaw-equipped truck", "beer-loving vegetarian", "man-eating bear".

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From what I know, hyphen (-) is used to combine (make-up) words. If you would have given a sentence you're working on, it would have made a lot more sense.

  • I have a chainsaw-equipped truck, I'll cut your wood up in no time.
  • I have a chainsaw equipped with a [insert a word] for better productivity.

PS: ... here's a way to use a hyphen: english-speaking-russian-national

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+1 for the contrasting examples. –  Marthaª Nov 6 '10 at 13:21
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I would think the last would be "English-speaking Russian national" –  Claudiu Nov 6 '10 at 13:34
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