12

Assuming that these two words

off-topic

on-topic

must be hyphenated, which of the punctuations in the following sentences is correct? (crucial part emphasized)

Regardless of whether it is an off or on-topic example, it is a brilliant consideration in the definition of this proposal.

Regardless of whether it is an off- or on-topic example, it is a brilliant consideration in the definition of this proposal.

I know you can get around this with a verbose constuction like off-topic or on-topic, or by not hyphenating either and treating off and on and topic as separate words, but neither suggestion really does anything to answer my question.

  • What Jedd says. Ceterum censeo that no hyphens are required in your example! – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica May 30 '11 at 0:42
17

The standard way to deal with this in English is your second example, "off- or on-topic". Another example of where the hyphen would be preserved for both forms of the hyphenated word might be pre- and post-, e.g.

The pre- and post-match responses of the soccer fans were markedly different.

  • But, pray, why? What is the source of "the standard way"? – Kris Jun 8 '14 at 9:40
  • @Kris No idea whether it would help you but it's also the standard way in German and I could provide you a source for that. – phk Aug 23 '17 at 15:22
  • 1
    @Kris Maybe the sources mentioned at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyphen#Suspended_hyphens could be helpful. – phk Aug 23 '17 at 15:24

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