While explaining an answer on hyphenation, (This was the question)
I had a bit of trouble explaining where hyphenation should be used and where it should not.
For example, consider the following two sentences:
His entry was less than impressive.
His less-than-impressive entry let down the audience.
I know instinctively that the second sentence must use hyphenation, but am unable to explain why this is so. I've heard that the word in the second sentence is attributive, but I'm not sure what that means.
Could somebody give a thorough explanation on when to use hyphenation in adjectives and when not to?
Other such examples are: know-it-all, devil-may-care, holier-than-thou, America-first, cloak-and-dagger, fairy-tale, drug-induced, kill-time, and many, many more(which I don't seem to recall now)!