My example in this case is "activity- and experience verbs", in the meaning "activity verbs and experience verbs". Does the hyphen suggest that "activity-verb" or "activityverb" is the uncontracted phrase, or is it correct to use a hyphen like shown in this case?


1 Answer 1


I don't believe the hyphen is used that way. A suspended hyphen is used to combine two hyphenated or prefixed terms that end in a common element.

"Activity verbs" and "experience verbs" are not hyphenated or prefixed terms. The way to simplify the combination would be "activity and experience verbs". For comparison, you could write "applied and theoretical statistics" or "wheat and corn harvests" (not "applied- and theoretical statistics" or "wheat- and corn harvests").

It's hard to show a negative, so I don't have a citation yet that directly addresses examples like yours. The Wikipedia article on "Hyphens" cites a source that gives a rule that is illustrated by a different kind of example, but that as worded technically also applies in your case:

Do not “take a shortcut” when the first expression is ordinarily open.

applied linguistics and sociolinguistics, not applied and sociolinguistics

(Indiana University Brand Guidelines, Style Guide | H)

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