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I remember when I was in high school, and we were told to write an essay of something. When our mentor was done checking our papers, a friend of mine raised his concern on why did our teacher put a big red X mark on the phrase porcelain-like skin. Our instructor explained that the used of hyphen was invalid.

Question is, when to know if it's valid to use hyphen of two or more words.

marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt May 29 '14 at 13:10

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  • 10
    Your instructor was wrong. There should be a hyphen there; otherwise you would be describing porcelain that is like/similar to skin, rather than skin that is porcelain-ish. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 29 '14 at 7:38
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Not necessarily. See usage examples online. – Kris May 29 '14 at 7:55
  • Hi Kris, I would appreciate if you can post a link. Thanks – stack May 29 '14 at 8:00
  • "During the Elizabethan age many women, in search of porcelain like skin, whitened their faces using ceruse, a potentially lethal combination of vinegar and lead." (LaNae Valentine, Ph.D.) "However, instead of the soft porcelain like skin, the bright smile and green eyes, ..." (Thomas A. Ryerson). See also: Everything is Just Yesterday with Lots of Tomorrows By Robert H. T. W. Nieder; Chemical Wedding By Julian Doyle, Bruce Dickinson ... – Kris May 29 '14 at 8:04
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    I'd look at the endorsement given to one of the comments here. And listen to the reasoning: 'porcelain like X' is a similar construction to 'tea like Darjeeling'. 'Porcelain-like' as a compound adjective is certainly not 'wrong / incorrect / invalid'. It's also probably preferred: the use of the hyphenated form to the open form is 12-4 (discarding the irrelevant hits) in the first 40 hits for "porcelain-like" on Google. Look up "compound adjectives + hyphenation"; this Yahoo thread specifically addresses the suffix like. – Edwin Ashworth May 29 '14 at 10:35

I don't see why you would get an X for that. The hyphen is correct in my view of this.

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