Is it necessary to hyphenate the words "hard-to-find" together when referring to things which have a property of being not readily located?


Adam locates hard-to-find items.

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    Used as an adjective before the noun, then yes, it is strongly recommended. But when it follows, it is not: so the hard-to-find items contrasts with the items are hard to find. This is a duplicate, BTW.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 15:58
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    Thank you for the comment, but sorry for the duplicate.
    – Steneub
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 16:00
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    @Steneub: No need to apologize; it's impossible to find anything here and only seasoned oldtimers like tchrist can locate them. Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 16:36
  • @tchrist If this is a duplicate, please provide a link to the original question. Otherwise submit your comment as an answer so that it can be voted on/marked.
    – Benubird
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 16:56
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    @Benubird— There are many, but I think this one has been answered comprehensively: When is it necessary to use a hyphen in writing a compound word?
    – Lacey
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 17:09

1 Answer 1


Those three words can be placed in that order such that they are part of a normal sentence, and I'm not sure why anyone would consider using hyphens.

"The needle I put in that haystack is going to be hard to find"

In this example I'm still referring to something with the property of 'not readily located' but I'm not using the phrase 'hard to find' as a single term, I'm using those three words as part of a sentence to describe a situation.

"The hard-to-find objects have yet to be discovered"

In this example the entire phrase is being used as an adjective, it could easily be replaced with a color. If we were to remove the hyphens the sentence would not be grammatically sound.

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