Do you hyphenate half-in half-out? He was half-in half-out. (of the window). Or half in, half out? Sheesh, nothing coming up on google. Any ideas/help please?

  • 1
    I'd use "half-in, half-out" or "half in, half out". But Ngram finds all imaginable variations.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 14, 2018 at 12:41

2 Answers 2


I see no reason for hyphens. Then, again, I see no reason for many apostrophes in today's names, but there they are. (Saw one recently, Rickey la' Davis--really?!)

  • Okay thanks. In that case, if no obvious rule, I might go for hyphens cos I prefer how it looks to the comma. I like my words to look neat too! Don't know Rickey la Davis I'm afraid. Footballer Rickey L Davis? In which case please explain the la part... thanks.
    – Debrapples
    Oct 15, 2018 at 10:15
  • No reasons for hyphens in general or in this specific case?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 15, 2018 at 10:33

No hyphens, because "half in" and "half out" aren't words. Hyphens connect the parts of a compound word. The stress on the last part of each, "in" and "out", is a clue that these are phrases, not words. Compound words usually have stress on the first part of the compound.

You could add a comma after "half in" to clarify the structure, if you wanted.

  • 1
    If you do the hokey pokey, you’re doing the hokey-pokey dance. The hyphens tie the words together, so that the hokey-pokey dance is distinguishable from (say) a hokey dance being done in the pokey.
    – user205876
    Jan 9, 2020 at 7:08
  • @GlobalCharm, You could say the same about 'the George Foreman grill", but it still doesn't need a hyphen (because "George Foreman" is not a word of English).
    – Greg Lee
    Jan 9, 2020 at 7:59
  • 1
    "... imagine a floor-warping, ceiling-spinning, brain-churning, think-you're-gonna-die-and-afraid-you-might-not hangover" ((Kristin Chenoweth) probably has emphasis on the 'not'. Compounding is poorly regulated, and 'half-in-half-out' seems a better candidate than the above (rather famous) example. Sep 5, 2020 at 14:44
  • @EdwinAshworth Yes. I'd agree that three hyphens are better than two here. "Half-in-half-out" is a composite expression. You could say someone was "half-in" the window, and equally one could say they were "half-out", but used in tandem they express a single idea.
    – WS2
    May 3, 2021 at 8:23
  • @Greg Lee Names for a single individual are not normally included. as regards hyphenating rules for pre-posiotioned composite adjectives. However, if one speaks about the Duckworth-Lewis rules for calculating the target score in a rain-affected, limited-overs cricket match - a hyphen becomes appropriate as you are talking about two separate people Mr Duckworth and Mr Lewis. It is sometimes known as the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method. However the Webb Ellis rules in rugby stand without a hyphen since William Webb Ellis was a single person.
    – WS2
    May 3, 2021 at 8:33

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