Is "family-owned-and-operated business" punctuated correctly? Yes or no?

Certainly looks better than:

a family-owned- and -operated business

And in predicative position, is this okay? "The business was family-owned-and-operated." Or drop the hyphens altogether in this construction?


  • 3
    It is not "punctuated" but "hyphenated". You should retag the question from "punctuation" to "hyphenation". Mar 14, 2016 at 6:55
  • 1
    Your counter example is wrong, which is why it looks wrong. "Family-owned and -operated" would be the way to hyphenate it if you like dangling hyphens. It's what I'd do in some cases.
    – Chris H
    Mar 14, 2016 at 8:03

1 Answer 1


Both phrases use hyphens correctly to form a compound “phrasal” adjective, family-owned-and-operated:

... family-owned-and-operated business ...

The business was family-owned-and-operated.

Neither phrase needs hyphens, however, in an unambiguous context:

Smith's Roadhouse was a family owned and operated business.

The business was family owned and operated.

Many writers omit unnecessary hyphens for the sake of neatness. In comparison, the hyphens should indeed be included here:

The business was family owned and operated for years.

Was the business family-owned during all the years that it was in operation?

Further reading
EL&U – When is it necessary to use a hyphen in writing a compound word?
Wikipedia – Compound modifier
Get It Write – Compound Words: When to Hyphenate

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