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Which of these phrases is more correct? I am trying to express that the campsite stewards are trained in first aid and are stationed on site.

  1. on-site first-aid trained campsite stewards
  2. on-site first-aid-trained campsite stewards
  3. on-site first aid-trained campsite stewards (I think it should be this one but it looks weird)
  4. on-site first aid trained campsite stewards

Many thanks!

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    This question discusses how to hyphenate modifiers like "first-aid-trained" (most common advice is to use two hyphens). I suspect people may have opinions about the rest of the construction.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Mar 14 at 10:10
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    On-site stewards trained in first aid. You don't need to repeat the location. Commented Mar 14 at 12:19
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    Does this answer your question? Is it correct to hyphenate with compound premodifiers? If so, where is the hyphen placed? [2] 'on-site first-aid-trained campsite stewards' or [2'] 'on-site first-aid–trained campsite stewards' (in the latter, the hyphen shows the closer association, the en-dash the looser). Commented Mar 14 at 15:34
  • I see ambiguity if it is parsed as campsite stewards who were trained on site in first-aid (and, one hopes, well before the first camper who needed assistance).
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Mar 15 at 1:07
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    I think it can be assumed that a 'campsite steward' is on-site? Then the triple barrel is less jarring. 'first-aid-trained campsite stewards'
    – OJFord
    Commented Mar 15 at 16:31

2 Answers 2

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The long string of nouns and adjectives make the phrases sound stiff and a bit problematic to parse. I also suspect that readers would assume someone campsite would be onsite (also spelt as one word).

The campsite stewards are first-aid trained.
The campsite stewards are first aid trained (without hyphens)
The on-site stewards are trained in first aid.

If the OP prefers a noun phrase:

first-aid trained campsite stewards
onsite first-aid-trained campsite stewards

This source uses the unhyphenated “first aid trained” several instances even when it is an attributive noun phrase.

First aid trained individuals can triage injuries, control the scene to keep others safe, and call for emergency services when needed. Not all first aid trained employees will feel comfortable performing CPR, using an automated external defibrillator (AED), or splinting a broken bone, however.
Source: J. J. Keller®COMPLIANCE NETWORK

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    Can't agree more that "the long string of nouns and adjectives" does no one a service. Thank you for addressing that. Commented Mar 14 at 14:22
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    Most style guides suggest that you should avoid hyphenating compound words such as "first aid". I therefore think both of your noun phrase suggestions are incorrect, especially the first one ("first-aid trained") Commented Mar 14 at 17:36
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While it would likely be better to rephrase, if you were to keep the sentence as is, both compounds should be hyphenated since they precede the noun. When forming a compound wherein one of the components is already a compound itself, an en dash (–) is used between the existing compound and the term to which it is being joined to distinguish it from the hyphen already there. Thus:

on-site first-aid–trained campsite stewards

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  • This is the first time that I've seen that. Do you have a source that supports this?
    – Stef
    Commented Mar 14 at 22:28
  • Most guides suggest this usage; here's what Merriam-Webster says: "If you want to be official about things, use the en dash to replace a hyphen in compound adjectives when at least one of the elements is a two-word compound."
    – GrammarCop
    Commented Mar 15 at 1:39

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