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I drive past a sign every day on my way to work; it reads:

Free Range
Non GMO
Chicken Eggs

My mind tells me that it should be: Free-range, Non-GMO, Chicken Eggs.

I think that you'd put the hyphens in because free modifies range, non modifies GMO, but my question is really this:

It's a single sentence, in it's own context, and obvious that it applies to selling eggs. Should we worry about punctuation in the case where it applies to a single-purpose, single-statement, sign?

  • Lol. Unless they're giving those chickens away, the hyphen between "free" and "range" is rather imperative. In signs and titles, however, it is par for the course that the commas between coordinate adjectives be omitted, but the hyphens, not so much. – Benjamin Harman Jul 14 '16 at 22:00
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If you start looking for grammatical errors in signs, you're going to see them all over the place. Just wait until you start noticing the abuse of apostrophe's.

sign's

So, sure, those words should probably be hyphenated if you were worried about grammar. But most people who write signs aren't very worried about grammar. The goal was to communicate that they're selling a certain type of egg.

(Although, the wikipedia article on free range uses both hyphenated and non-hyphenated forms.)

But I will note that your example isn't a sentence because it doesn't contain a verb.

Edit: If you want them to change their sign, tell them you thought they were selling "Free Non Chicken Range GMO Eggs"!

don't dead open inside

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