Hyphens in compound modifiers


What do you think should be done if the noun the phrase is modifying is only implied? For instance:


You'll be finding out how to apply this plan to your day-to-day.


The implied noun that "day-to-day" is modifying is "work" or "job." Would you leave the hyphens in, or change it to:


You'll be finding out how to apply this plan to your day to day.


I realize that this whole issue could be avoided if I added the noun or rearranged the sentence. Please pretend like those are not options.



asked Dec 04 '12 at 22:50 Actually Holly Expert

3 answers


There is, in fact, a rule that covers this. The Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition, 2010, University of Chicago Press) expresses it best at 7.77: "The first place to look for answers is the dictionary."


In other words, before you apply the other rules for compound adjectives, check the dictionary. CMoS recommends Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, which -- in turn -- shows day-to-day as an always hyphenated compound adjective. With that information in hand, there is no need to apply the rules about whether the compound comes before or after the noun.


I hope this helps.

link comment answered Dec 05 '12 at 02:52 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

I would use the hyphens. With the noun implied, there would seem to be more reason to tie the words together. I'd like to see what others say on this.

link answered Dec 04 '12 at 22:56 Lewis Neidhardt Grammarly Fellow


Actually HollyDec 05 '12 at 02:12

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I agree with Lewis, Holly.  Keeping the hyphens in seems to make it more clear that there is another word implied.  Without the hyphens, it's a bit confusing.  

link comment answered Dec 05 '12 at 01:43 Patty T Grammarly Fellow

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