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I have a company that provides services in the patients' own home. When writing about it do I say "it's an at home service" or do I say an "at-home service"? I feel perhaps the hyphen makes it easier to read and understand.

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    In my experience it's either HOME SERVICE or HOME SERVICES without the preposition. – Ronald Sole Feb 19 '17 at 14:24
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    @RonaldSole - Those work; also "in-home services." – aparente001 Feb 20 '17 at 4:50
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If you must make that choice then it’s an ‘at-home service’.

‘A service at home’ would describe how, or in this case where the service was provided.

‘An at-home service’ would describe the kind of service provided. The fact that here, ‘at-home’ appears to describe how or where the service was provided is slightly relevant in semantic terms; not at all in grammatical terms.

The hyphen makes it easier to read and understand in some circumstances; harder in others. Either way, it depends on the meaning intended.

If anyone really thinks dropping the preposition in favour of ‘home services’ changes anything, doubtless he will be able to explain how.

If anyone really thinks ‘in-home… ’ instead of ‘at-home services’ changes anything, doubtless he will be able to explain how.

Why would you care that you actually have a company which provides services… either in the patient’s own home or the patients’ own homes? The differences are between right and wrong, not matters of choice, so why should you give a rat’s whisker?

Having written that kind of sentence for thousands of clients over many years, I suggest you let go of the whole idea and start afresh.

If you want to say ‘I have a company which provides services in the patient’s own home’ then say so… only don’t use such an unnatural form. Say instead ‘… which provides services in the patient’s home’’

Please remember one of the worst problems choosing words for such situations is that written speech is very much not the same as… ‘real' speech, for which reason do not plan on paper what you want to say. Get two or three colleagues together and record a real conversation with no notes or other aids.

Talk for long enough - which might easily be half an hour or more - that the process of talking with a recorder running stops being a barrier. Having achieved that, you will be recording what you think of as natural speech describing the situation in which you actually find yourself, instead of artificial speech purporting to describe a situation with which you’re not truly comfortable.

If you doubt any of that, try listening a lot harder to the average TV commercial, and asking yourself how authentic either the words or the delivery f those words really sounds…

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