0

This question already has an answer here:

My native language is Dutch. We have a subtle, but useful way of combining the ingredients: Prefix (+ comma) + and + Prefix + stem. However, I do not know whether the same rules apply in the English language, e.g.:

"Copper-, and iron-based materials" This means two or more materials. One or more based on copper, and at least another one based on steel, or vice versa.

"Copper- and iron-based materials" This indicates multiple materials composed of copper and iron.

Thus the comma makes the difference. Furthermore, the hyphen is necessary. And last but not least: "copper-based materials and iron-based materials" does not make useful use of the rules of language.

So what are the rules?

Thank you,

Max

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, Community Jul 28 at 20:29

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • That is what we call the Oxford comma. Use as you wish, it's just a personal choice. – marcellothearcane Jul 26 at 12:24
  • I've never heard of any such distinction. To me, copper- and iron-based materials means that the statement refers to both materials based on copper and materials based on iron. – Kate Bunting Jul 26 at 12:26
  • Possible duplicate of How to use hyphens appropriately when listing multiple hyphenated terms? The use of the comma is inappropriate here (though in a list, which OP does not ask about, the listing comma is used in a predictable way). – Edwin Ashworth Jul 26 at 13:18
2

I would say that

copper-and-iron-based materials

describes materials based on both copper and iron, while

copper- and iron-based materials

means two or more materials, some based on copper and some on iron.

Adding a comma to get

copper-, and iron-based materials

wouldn't change the meaning, since copper- and iron-based materials already has the meaning that the comma gives it in Dutch. You wouldn't include the comma in an English sentence unless it was a list of length at least three, such as

copper-, iron-, and lead-based materials.

In this case, the commas don't change the meaning.

Certainly copper- and iron- based materials means two or more materials, some based on copper and some on iron. See this website, which says:

Suspended Compounds

With a series of nearly identical compounds, we sometimes delay the final term of the final term until the last instance, allowing the hyphen to act as a kind of place holder, as in

The third- and fourth-grade teachers met with the parents.
Both full- and part-time employees will get raises this year.

  • The OP was asking whether the presence or absence of a comma after 'copper-' affected the meaning. – Kate Bunting Jul 26 at 12:42
  • @Kate: Added to my answer now. I was explaining how to distinguish the two different meanings in English, but I clearly also should have said that we don't use commas like that. – Peter Shor Jul 26 at 12:51

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.