First-time poster. I hope I am posting appropriately and following protocol. I looked at the other sections and this seemed to me to be the correct place.

Very quick and simple question. Hyphens are always rather tricky for me. Should the following be written as:

"knowledge and detail-based approach" or "knowledge-and-detail-based approach" or "knowledge and detail based approach"

Thank you!

  • Knowledge and detail-based approach -- means an approach that's detail-based and knowledge. What's that supposed to mean?
    – user392935
    Aug 31 '20 at 19:13
  • knowledge- and detail-based approach? Aug 31 '20 at 19:47
  • If you mean "knowledge-based and detail-based", that is, based on both knowledge and detail, then Q113422 is relevant: it would be "knowledge- and detail-based".
    – Andrew Leach
    Aug 31 '20 at 20:01

This answer complements some of the comments already made. "detail-based" is a modifier for a noun (in this case, approach). If your example comes from a sentence where something was based on knowledge and on detail-based approach, it reads correctly as "... knowledge and detail-based approach".

If, on the contrary, it refers to an approach that is based on both knowledge and detail, it should be "... knowledge- and detail-based approach".

I find it helpful to think of the hyphen as a hook on the leading concept that attaches it to the end concept so as to make the modifier. If there is only one leading concept, the two are hooked up as in "detail-based". If there are two or more leading concepts, the hooks on all but the last leading are left open so as to each anticipate the end concept. Thus we have "We sell fire-, flood-, vermin- and wind-resistant buildings."

  • ... which is very different than selling "fire, flood, vermin, and wind-resistant buildings".... :-)
    – Hellion
    Aug 31 '20 at 22:52
  • @Hellion Indeed! Amusingly apocalyptic.
    – Anton
    Sep 1 '20 at 6:47

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