My natural instinct is to hyphenate expressions such as "currently-available", "currently-implemented", etc., when they modify a noun. Example: "the currently-available version of X". It seems to me that the words function as a compound adjective, and I was taught to hyphenate compound adjectives that occur before a noun.

However, to my surprise, I find this expression often left unhyphenated. Now I'm confused. Is it considered appropriate or inappropriate to hyphenate the words in this situation?

EDIT: I only now noticed this is essentially a duplicate of this Is “currently-installed” a proper compound adjective?, which is apparently itself a duplicate of others. My apologies.

3 Answers 3


Currently is an adverb, and therefore does not form a compound modifier. So, just keep the sentence, but take out the hyphen.


Hyphens are a “look-it-up” punctuation mark. Though hyphens have several uses, we’re going to focus on how to use hyphens with compound adjectives. Compound adjectives are two or more words that together make an adjective. When they come directly before a noun, they’re known as compound modifiers and usually have a hyphen, like “noise-canceling headphones.” Here are a few more examples: They had a long-term relationship. The fire-proof vest proved to be a great life saver for Santa Claus.

  • I would +1 this for "... adverb ... does not form a compound modifier," but your "quick and dirty tip" just adds, uh, dirt. It could be read as contradicting your first sentence.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 2:49
  • Adverbs can form compound modifiers: for example, "well-known" is often hyphenated in attributive position, and as far as I know this is not considered an error. It is only specifically adverbs ending in "-ly" that are not supposed to be hyphenated (and also "very").
    – herisson
    Commented May 30, 2017 at 19:23

I've seen many manuscripts (and some published books) that contain compound modifiers joined by a hyphen even when the first word of the compound modifier is an adverb ending in -ly. As a matter of style, however, opinion is remarkably consistent in condemning the hyphenated form.

From The Oxford Guide to Style (2002), section 5.10.1 ("Compound words"):

Do not hyphenate adjectival compounds beginning with adverbs ending in -ly: [examples:] happily married couple, frequently made error, newly discovered compound, painfully obvious conclusion

From The Chicago Manual of Style, sixteenth edition (2010):

7.82 Adverbs ending in "ly." Compounds formed by an adverb ending in ly plus an adjective or participle (such as largely irrelevant or smartly dressed) are not hyphenated either before or after a noun, since ambiguity is virtually impossible. (The ly ending with adverbs signals to the reader that the next word will be another modifier, not a noun.)

From Bryan Garner, Garner's Modern American Usage, second edition (2003) in the entry for "Phrasal Adjectives":

B. Exception for -ly Adverbs. When a phrasal adjective begins with an adverb ending in -ly, the convention is to drop the hyphen—e.g., "With the hotly-contested {read hotly contested} Second Congressional District primary six days away, supporters of Sen. Bob Smith gathered last night just as curious about a race ywo years away and a candidate who hasn't said yet whether he's eunning." M.L. Elrick, "Kemp Coy on Plans for 1996," Concord Monitor, 8 Sept. 1994, at B1. But if the -ly adverb is part of a longer phrase, then the hyphen is mandatory (the not-so-hotly-contested race).

And from The Associated Press Stylebook (2002):

COMPOUND MODIFIERS: When a compound modifier — two or more words that express a single concept — precedes a noun, use hyphens to link all the words in the compound except the adverb very and all adverbs that end in -ly: [examples omitted].


The principle of using a hyphen to avoid confusion explains why no hyphen is required with very and -ly words. Readers can expect them to modify the word that follows.

All of these style guides emphasize that the nonhyphenation of adverbs as the first element in a compound modifier applies only to adverbs ending in -ly. So "quickly moving stream" would go hyphenless, but "fast-moving stream" would not. But "currently available," "currently implemented," etc. (which you ask about) fall squarely under the no-hyphen rule, regardless of whether the compound modifier precedes or follows the noun it modifies.


It depends on the context. If you say that a product is "currently available" you don't need a hyphen, but the expression "currently-available product" does need a hyphen, because you're creating a compound adjective.

  • Adverbs don't require a hyphen when coupled with adjectives. You wouldn't write "That was a very-good meal," would you?
    – Robusto
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 2:47
  • What @Robusto said. In particular, do not hyphenate "-ly" with what follows it.
    – Drew
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 2:53
  • @Robusto: some adverbs can, perhaps must, take a hyphen, such as "well" in "well-known politician." The adverbs that are not supposed to be hyphenated in this position are a subset of all adverbs, consisting of the ones ending in "-ly" plus "very". Alternatively, perhaps this could be formulated as "adverbs that are identical in form to an adjective may/must take a hyphen".
    – herisson
    Commented May 30, 2017 at 19:31

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