I have a feeling this question has already been asked, but couldn't find it by searching. I found people asking about hyphenation of multiple compound adjectives with a common second word, but I'm wondering about hyphenation of multiple compound adjectives with a common first word.

What is the correct way to hyphenate a phrase like this, assuming that "sometimes" is modifying both "unreliable" and "inadequate?":

sometimes unreliable and inadequate Internet service

Note that if style plays a role in your answer, I prefer American English and specifically Chicago style.


1 Answer 1


You could certainly try the reverse of the use of same first-word compound adjectives (e.g., first- and second-generation immigrants) by doing this: sometimes-unreliable and -inadequate service. But that looks a bit odd and I would re-word if necessary.

  • If there was only one compound in each case you'd hyphenate first-generation but not sometimes unreliable. This must be the main reason for the difference, surely?
    – BoldBen
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 8:54

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