I wrote:

An open -source and -society loving person

and had this corrected by a native English speaker to

An open-source-and-society loving person

Which to me changes the meaning of the phrase. The first one is meant to be short-hand for prefixing both "source" and "society" with "open", while the second one does not seem to connect "society" with "open".

Is either of the forms more correct than the other? Should it be written differently all together?

  • 5
    This just shows that 'native speaker' is not much of a qualification, as he/she took your acceptable sentence and ruined it. Commented Sep 3, 2012 at 14:29
  • -1 Please consult a standard reference and include your research results in any question you ask. Close General Reference.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Sep 3, 2012 at 16:54
  • I initially googled, but didn't know what to search for, so I didn't find anything on this topic. After you comment though, I tried some more, and found out that it's called Suspended hyphens
    – user50849
    Commented Sep 3, 2012 at 17:48
  • @user50849 Feel free to make your comment an answer to your own question. It's encouraged. (:
    – Zairja
    Commented Sep 3, 2012 at 20:20
  • @Zairja, thanks. I'm aware of that, but figured I'd get the question closed based on ΜετάEd's comment. Posted an answer now.
    – user50849
    Commented Sep 4, 2012 at 11:02

1 Answer 1


The use of hyphens in my initial sentance is called Suspended hyphens.

From wikipedia:

A suspended hyphen (also referred to as a "hanging hyphen" or "dangling hyphen") may be used when a single base word is used with separate, consecutive, hyphenated words which are connected by "and", "or", or "to". For example, nineteenth-century and twentieth-century may be written as nineteenth- and twentieth-century.

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