Consider the following sentence:

The labour-intensive and time-intensive part starts tomorrow.

I want to write this without rewriting the word "intensive."

Is this the correct way to do it?

The labour- and time-intensive part starts tomorrow.

Note the hyphen hanging after the word labour. Or should there be no hyphen after labour? Can anyone point me to a reference that talks about this?

  • If it was "labour-intensive or time-intensive" you could say "labour/time-intensive".
    – APPLE
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 19:49
  • What is the name for this form of hyphenation (labour- ...) in the English grammar, so that I can read up on this?
    – JoHKa
    Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 15:52
  • 4
    @johann_ka suspended hyphens english.stackexchange.com/a/132002/196994
    – Blaisem
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 7:28

2 Answers 2


Fowler recommends that you leave out the hyphen after labour there, because it is not strictly needed for comprehension. I don't have a reference on hand, but it is no doubt in his Dictionary of Modern English Usage, a highly respected style book.

  • 3
    Yep. The hyphen is allowed but not required. I like the look of it, though, and it disambiguates a few edge cases.
    – Jon Purdy
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 19:57
  • @JonPurdy: It is required in Dutch btw... Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 20:45
  • Interesting. I know sticklers who would say it’s required in English, but even for the normal case of compound adjectives (“a six-foot-tall man”) most people don’t use them and it’s not usually ambiguous (“a six foot tall man”). The only thing that bothers me is when people hypercorrect: e.g., “she was six years old” to “she was six-years-old”.
    – Jon Purdy
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 23:52
  • @JonPurdy: That is indeed annoying! The idea behind a six-foot-tall man is consistency: if we always hyphenate compound adjectives, we can depend upon this feature, and it becomes easier in general to immediately parse correctly a pot smoking hot and a pot-smoking hottie, even though strictly neither is ambiguous. Commented Nov 11, 2013 at 0:23

Yes , you can hyphenate.

Though you have to realize that both "Time-intensive" and "Labor-intensive" are adjectives, qualifying the noun "Part" I would personally take the conjunction "And" out. Try a noun after both the adjectives, for example Time-intensive activities... Labor-intensive jobs etc.

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