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The question is quite straightforward: Which of the following is preferable?

"I keep myself up-to-date on the latest technology."

"I keep myself up to date on the latest technology."

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, David, Davo, Xanne, FumbleFingers Sep 13 '17 at 16:03

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    @phenry -- I don't agree that it's a duplicate question in terms of its relevance or usefulness to our questioner here. The question here is about the use of hyphenation in adjectives / adjectival phrases; and though the question you linked to doesn't exclude people from supplying answers that would also be relevant to this questioner's query, the fact is that nobody responding to your linked-to question has yet provided any such answer. – Erik Kowal Jun 25 '14 at 7:53
  • I agree with Erik Kowal that "up-to-date" versus "up to date" has its own special complications not thoroughly covered by discussions of "object oriented" vs "object-oriented". For example, even when the phrase appears in post-object position, there is a difference between "I keep myself up-to-date with your mother" and "I keep myself up to date with your mother." – Sven Yargs Nov 4 '17 at 2:37
up vote 37 down vote accepted

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, as quoted by the site below, you hyphenate if the compound adjective is before the noun and don't hyphenate if it is after the noun.

With compound adjectives formed from the adverb well and a participle (e.g., well-known), or from a phrase (e.g., up-to-date), you should use a hyphen (or hyphens) when the compound comes before the noun:

well-known brands of coffee;
an up-to-date account,

but not when the compound comes after the noun:

His music was also well known in England.
Their figures are up to date.

From Oxford Dictionaries via Adverbs and Hyphens by Maeve Maddox for Daily Writing Tips.

In this case the noun is myself and before the adjective, so no hyphen.


In other styles, this may not necessarily hold true. For instance, in APA style, hyphens are discouraged unless they add clarity.

The reference to coming before or after the noun is correct-ish, but for the wrong reason.

If the expression is being used as an adjective then hyphenation may be appropriate; if it's used as a predicate, then likely not.

This gives us "a well-known man" and an "up-to-date computer", as opposed to "a man who is well known" and "a computer which is up to date".

The location of the expression within the sentence is a consequence of normal word order in English, rather than of itself being the driver for the use of hyphens.

Always subject to the overriding rule in modern English that you can break a rule if it doesn't look right to you otherwise.

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    Hello, Bhoy. Correct though this may be, (1) you add no supporting evidence; (2) This is a comment on an answer here, not addressing the question directly. (3) These distinctions have been drawn before on ELU. (4) 'These changes are cost-related'. is an example of a predicative construction where the hyphen is necessary; you don't give one. But also, (5) Many treatments maintain that predicative adjectives are adjectives, and that hyphens are often more necessary to disambiguate prenominal adjective constructions than predicative ones. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 11 '17 at 16:43

I would hyphenate if you're using it as a compound adjective, otherwise not.

eg: Here is the up-to-date version of the document.

Come in early tomorrow and we'll get you up to date.

I think valid arguments could be made to contradict this stance, but it is my preference.

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    Note that the crucial difference here is whether the phrase being used as an adjective precedes or follows the noun it modifies: "up-to-date," hyphenated, directly precedes "version" in the first example; "up to date," open, follows "you." – Brian Donovan Jun 24 '14 at 20:18

The simple answer is that the non-hyphenated version is more appropriate - and more commonly used - in the example sentence that you give.

The hyphenated version is more commonly seen as a compound adjective, sometimes as a jargon phrase. Indeed, I have seen it used as a perjorative, sarcastic term, although that is not common usage.

So in summary, up-to-date is used as an adjective describing a condition or status of an object or document, while up to date is used to describe a state of mind or a fashion.

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