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Should I hyphenate the term 'well organised'? The context, if it matters, is the following sentence:

For this role you should be well organised and analytical with some research ability.

(I see there are other question here about hyphenation; do point me to one if this falls under a general rule, I just couldn't see it.)

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

Of course the context matters. I think it tells you whether a hyphen is needed or not.

Use a hyphen with compound adjectives (such as well-organized) when they precede a noun.

  • It was a well-organized meeting.

When the description follows the noun, no hyphen is necessary.

  • Her office is well organized.

In your example, I would not hyphenate the phrase.

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Is "well-organized" a compound adjective if "well" is an adverb? – GEdgar Apr 25 '12 at 13:17
A compound adjective can have an adverb. See this link: oxforddictionaries.com/words/hyphen – JLG Apr 25 '12 at 13:37
Another way to think of it is that as a prefix adjective, it’s hyphenated, but as a complement, it isn’t. If that’s too complicated, just say to hyphenate it if comes before the noun it applies to, but not to do so if it comes afterwards. That’s a bit loose, I know. I’m looking for a well-organized and well-disciplined candidate.; I’m looking for a candidate [who is] both well organized and well disciplined. – tchrist Apr 25 '12 at 18:37

No, in this case it should not be hyphenated.

As a general guide, you should hyphenate such things when they are functioning as an adjective - "he was a well-organised man".

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In OP's example, "well organized" can be interpreted as an adjective. You can easily replace it with another adjective, so it passes the test. – RegDwigнt Apr 25 '12 at 13:34
Dropping in another adjective is not a test as we are discussing a compound construction. To function as an adjective, a compound needs a following noun to modify. This is why, as JLG correctly informs us (at the same minute that I was posting...) a compound is hyphenated as a pre-modifier to a noun, but not as a post-modifier when it is no longer adjectival. In the OP's example there is no following noun. – Roaring Fish Apr 25 '12 at 14:27
So in 'He was cold', are you saying that 'cold' doesn't function as an adjective? – Edwin Ashworth Oct 2 '13 at 7:50
Of course it is, but have you noticed that 'cold' is not a compound? In 'he is a well organised man' the attribute is 'organised' and the 'well' is just flapping around; not really part of the noun phrase. To make the whole thing an attribute - to function as a single adjective - they need to be linked with a hyphen. This is not a complicated idea... When it is predicative the issue doesn't arise as we are no longer trying to force 'well' and 'organised' to act in unison as a single adjective. – Roaring Fish Oct 2 '13 at 16:31

protected by tchrist Feb 22 '15 at 4:20

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