Does the following sentence make sense?

Computers take key role at the two middle stages of the previously-listed.

(Previously a process has been discussed with six different stages, so "previously-listed" refers to its third and fourth stage.)

...and in case the sentence is correct, should a hyphen be used in the adjective or not?

  • 2
    ... of these [six] (if in the previous sentence) or ... of the six listed sounds more idiomatic. I wouldn't label your usage incorrect, but would never use it. Mar 28, 2015 at 9:39

2 Answers 2


Your sentence is probably not technically incorrect, because you can omit a noun in some cases. But you should only omit the noun if the meaning is clear without it, and in this case the meaning isn't clear.

The hyphen isn't correct. While you do want a hyphen in a compound adjective, e.g. state-of-the-art technology, you do not want a hyphen between an adverb and an adjective, which is what you have here.

I'd suggest the following:

Computers take the key role at the middle two of the previously listed stages.

  • 2
    Au contraire—a hyphen is standard in compound adjectives that consist of an adverb modifying the head adjective (well-spoken, fast-paced, etc.). The reason no hyphen should be used here is that previously listed isn't a compound adjective at all. It's an adverb and an adjective. Mar 28, 2015 at 11:11
  • Yes, the hyphen is appropriate for some adverbs, like "well." I should have said "an -LY adverb" instead of just "an adverb." The following website has a good discussion of hyphenating adverbs: dailywritingtips.com/adverbs-and-hyphens It concludes: "The one rule you can memorize with confidence is that a hyphen is not needed when an -ly adverb begins a phrasal modifier." Mar 28, 2015 at 12:30
  • I must have read your answer too quickly—I thought it said that compound adjectives consisting of adverb + adjective should not be hyphenated, which it actually doesn't. No au contraire was needed in my previous comment. Mar 28, 2015 at 12:34

(Previously a process has been discussed with six different stages, so "previously-listed" refers to its third and fourth stage.) Tom.

Tom, your sentence says: A process has been discussed with six different stages. (let's stop here.) What this statement says is, " An unknown actor discussed an unknown subject with a committee of six different stages"

So what were the stages' comments about the process?

Maybe you mean to say, "A process with six different stages has been discussed WITH WHOM? WHEN, WHERE, WHY?

Your sentence is lacking fundamental elements to be a complete sentence: you need to add, or shift around, some syntactic elements into the pile. Then organize according to the simplest formula there is:

English Sentence - Subj (NP)+ VP + Obj (complement of clauses that is where WHO, WHEN, WHY are stringed)

  • There is no need whatsoever for all those elements to be present in the sentence if they can be gleaned from the context (i.e., have been mentioned in previous sentences, which is basically what the asker is saying is the case). Mar 28, 2015 at 11:12
  • Also, you seem to be misunderstanding the sentence in the question. The with PP is not an argument of the verb but part of the subject: a process with (=consisting of) six stages has been discussed (previously in the text). You can discuss something in a text without discussing it with anyone. Mar 28, 2015 at 12:10

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