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I am taking IELTS exam and I was marked wrong in the following question:

  1. Preferred location: in the Northwest

Apparently, the correct answer is "North-West."

Notice that officially, IELTS supposed to support both British spelling and American spelling. For example, both "color" and "colour" should be marked correct. I check the Merriam-Webster dictionary and I am pretty confident my spelling is the correct American way of spelling. According to Merriam-Webster,

northwest, capitalized: regions or countries to the northwest of a specified or implied point of orientation.

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  • dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/northwest NB It's vegetarian and Merriam. – Kate Bunting Jun 11 '20 at 7:56
  • Hi, would you expand on it?I checked the link and it is not very clear to me when to use the capitalization and when not to. More importantly, even northwest would be markded wrong by IELTS. There is only one correct answer and that is North-West – jxhyc Jun 11 '20 at 8:03
  • IMO you would only capitalise north-west when it is part of a proper name as The Northwest Territories of Canada. You have overlooked that the Merriam-Webtser entry says "North West geographical name" below the uncapitalised definitions. – Weather Vane Jun 11 '20 at 8:09
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    IELTS is supposed to support both British spelling and American spelling. I can only assume that as the context is for a stay in the UK and it is on a British English form, "North-West" is what is required as this is the British term, although it seems a little harsh unless context has been given. – Greybeard Jun 11 '20 at 9:10
  • The exam you quote says nothing about regions or countries. In fact, the use of in the northwest strongly suggests the adverbial definition, which is all lowercase, rather than the common noun sense you propose. But since the exam provides no context for the phrase, it's impossible to say. – Jason Bassford Jun 11 '20 at 20:49

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