Which is the correct way to hyphenate the following message: the hotel in question is, among all the hotels in Dehli with the same 4-star rating, second best.

This is the second-highest-rated 4-star hotel in Dehli.


This is the second-highest rated 4-star hotel in Dehli.

or something else?

  • 1
    Of the four-star hotels in Delhi, this one has the second-highest average guest rating. Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 21:09
  • Similar: Hyphenation of “second most northerly”
    – herisson
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 12:43
  • 1
    'The hotel in question is rated as the second best 4-star hotel in Delhi'
    – Littletee
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 13:50
  • This doesn't sound too bad in speech, where you compartmentalise [secondhighestrated] and [4star]. The way to do this if transcribing is to use hyphens as in your first example. But if you're not transcribing speech verbatim, go with Jason's or Littletee's rewrite. There's a useful quasi-rule somewhere about avoiding unwieldy stacked modifiers. Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 15:12

1 Answer 1


Your first attempt is correct. The second is wrong. Let me begin with the second sentence. To me, "This is the second-highest rated 4-star hotel in Dehli" says something about how tall the building is. That is, among all 4-star hotels that have been given a formal rating, this hotel is the second-highest. In contrast, your first sentence correctly explains that it is the rating that is the second highest.

Having considered correctness, I think that it is then worth considering how best to say what you want to say, and in that case, the construction suggested by @Jason is easy to understand and unambiguous.

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