Grammar Tip – Hyphens – Part II

In a previous post, we discussed some of the rules surrounding hyphens, and I promised to provide more guidelines in this BizWritingTip.

I did say not to put a hyphen between a compound adjective (two adjectives) when the first word ends in “ly.”

Examples (correct)

Environmentally friendly packaging
Poorly written report

There is, however, an exception: When the compound adjective before the noun consists of a word ending in “ly” and is followed by a participle (a word ending in “ing”), then you do add the hyphen.

Examples (correct)

A highly-ranking officer
A friendly-looking attendant

Note: Never use a hyphen with the words more, most, less and least.

Examples (correct)

More experienced salesperson
Least costly suggestion

A quiz based on Hyphens — Parts 1 and 2

1. He delivered an oddly-shaped/oddly shaped package.

2. We need to order water repellent/water-repellent fabrics.

3. We need to meet face to face/face-to-face.

4. I have a toll free/toll-free number.

5. With regard to the above-mentioned/above mentioned/abovementioned project …

6. She is the most likely/most-likely candidate for the position.

7. I would like to thank you/thank-you for the strongly worded/strongly-worded reference.

8. The visit included a quickly-moving/quickly moving tour of the site.


1. oddly shaped, 2. water-repellent, 3. face to face, 4. toll-free, 5. above-mentioned, 6. most likely, 7. thank you, strongly worded, 8. quickly-moving

Having fun yet!