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Hyphenation in compound adjectives

Does one need to hyphenate, e.g.: "The ten word story" or "The ten-word story"?

I can see why one might need to hyphenate in the plural case: "the ten word stories" vs "the ten-word stories", because the former could be interpreted as "ten stories with words" instead of "stories with ten words".

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marked as duplicate by tchrist, simchona Nov 5 '12 at 22:53

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Most usages don't include a hyphen, but it's really up to you as a stylistic choice. I wouldn't worry about the possibility of someone thinking you're talking about "ten stories with words" - that just ain't gonna happen. –  FumbleFingers Nov 5 '12 at 21:48
Hyphenating the phrase is not obligatory, but it is a courtesy to the reader, who in long sentences needs all the help she can get. –  StoneyB Nov 5 '12 at 22:29
FumbleFingers, maybe it's excessively literal but there are other contexts for "word stories" - stories formatted with Microsoft Word, stories created with words in context of stories with pictures, etc. Josef, the key here is that these two pieces of information must be linked to be a proper description. They don't mean the same thing independently (and "everyone knows" is the bane of grammar). To me, ten-word is the correct usage. Go with that. –  lonstar Nov 5 '12 at 22:33
@everyone: thanks for the help. I'm sorry if this was a duplicate question, but the ones I managed to find under the hyphenation tag didn't seem to clearly apply to this scenario. –  Josef Kay Nov 6 '12 at 18:48

1 Answer 1

A ten word story makes perfect sense if you mean a story with ten words.

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Disagree completely. The answer seems to be using "ten-word" as some sort of replaceable variable: print $ten-word. No, no, no... –  lonstar Nov 5 '12 at 22:37
I also disagree. –  GEdgar Nov 5 '12 at 22:37

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