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The right use of adjectives in English
Thread poster: dany2303

dany2303  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:20
Member
English to Spanish
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Sep 7, 2006

Hi!
I have serious doubts when using several adjectives before a noun, specially with hyphens....Are there rules to take into account? Please, tell me...
For example:

"eight-weeks long summer vacation"
or
"eight weeks-long summer vacation"
Thanks in advance!


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Gayle Wallimann  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:20
Member (2001)
French to English
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No definite rule Sep 7, 2006

Hi Dany,

I don't think that there is a definite rule, but usually compound adjectives are hyphenated between the first two adjectives.
Your example if written like this:
"eight-week long summer vacation" (meaning the vacation lasted for eight weeks)
without an 's' on "week".

Your second example, if written like this:
"eight week-long vacations" would mean eight separate vacations that lasted one week each.

Here are some links that address the point:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/learnit/learnitv19.shtml

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyphen

Maybe someone else has a very simple rule of thumb for you.

Gayle

[Edited at 2006-09-07 14:57]


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
yes Sep 7, 2006

Your example has a tiny error: eight-week-long vacation (not weeks). That is because "week" (a noun) has taken the role of an adjective in this instance.

I think your question is really about hyphenating ordinals. As long as the string precedes the noun, it should be hyphenated:
twentieth-century literature; mid-eighteenth-century poet; twenty-first-row seats; first-past-the-post electoral system; a three-inch-high statuette, etc.

But literature written in the twentieth century; poet living the in the mid-eighteenth century; the statuette was three inches high.

The Chicago Manual of Style, which is one of the most widely used guides for U.S. English, has 7 pages of hyphenation rules (see section 7.90), with examples for all the different kinds of combinations (adj+noun, adj.+participle, adv.+participle, noun+noun, etc.).

So, don't feel bad because this can be very confusing. But hyphens also are important at times to avoid ambiguity. HTH


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dany2303  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:20
Member
English to Spanish
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TOPIC STARTER
Thanks a lot! Sep 7, 2006

You have helped me a lot!


Gayle Wallimann wrote:

Hi Dany,

I don't think that there is a definite rule, but usually compound adjectives are hyphenated between the first two adjectives.
Your example if written like this:
"eight-week long summer vacation" (meaning the vacation lasted for eight weeks)
without an 's' on "week".

Your second example, if written like this:
"eight week-long vacations" would mean eight separate vacations that lasted one week each.

Here are some links that address the point:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/learnit/learnitv19.shtml

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyphen

Maybe someone else has a very simple rule of thumb for you.

Gayle

[Edited at 2006-09-07 14:57]


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dany2303  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:20
Member
English to Spanish
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Thanks a lot! Sep 7, 2006

Patricia Rosas wrote:

Your example has a tiny error: eight-week-long vacation (not weeks). That is because "week" (a noun) has taken the role of an adjective in this instance.

I think your question is really about hyphenating ordinals. As long as the string precedes the noun, it should be hyphenated:
twentieth-century literature; mid-eighteenth-century poet; twenty-first-row seats; first-past-the-post electoral system; a three-inch-high statuette, etc.

But literature written in the twentieth century; poet living the in the mid-eighteenth century; the statuette was three inches high.

The Chicago Manual of Style, which is one of the most widely used guides for U.S. English, has 7 pages of hyphenation rules (see section 7.90), with examples for all the different kinds of combinations (adj+noun, adj.+participle, adv.+participle, noun+noun, etc.).

So, don't feel bad because this can be very confusing. But hyphens also are important at times to avoid ambiguity. HTH




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lingomaniac
Local time: 12:20
English to Spanish
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Try using this book Sep 7, 2006

In English, unlike in Spanish and other languages, there is no organization that serves as an "auhtority", such as the Real Academia, and so forth. Nevertheless, there are some usage dictionaries that can help. I recall one that has helped me a lot: Fowler's Modern English Usage. However, I must point out that not everyone agrees with this guide. There is also the Chicago Style Manual and the MLA Style manual. All these guides have rules on hyphenation. There are also more specialized guides such as the New York Times Style Manual, which is useful when translating newspaper articles. Again, these resources should not be seen as an authority, yet are quite useful. I hope I've been albe to help you...

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dany2303  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:20
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Thanks a lot! Sep 8, 2006

gracias por el aporte....

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Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:20
Member (2011)
Multiplelanguages
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English style manuals Sep 9, 2006

The 3 most widely used style manuals are the following:

Chicago manual of style
http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/cmosfaq/cmosfaq.html

MLA (Modern Language Association) manual
http://www.mla.org/store&hzid=S181

APA style manual
http://www.wooster.edu/psychology/apa-crib.html

Depending on who will publish the document that you write will determine which style manual to use (mainly for conference proceedings, journal publications, thesis/dissertation, etc).


Jeff
http://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffallen


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damianmora
English
"week" as an adjective? Sep 11, 2006

hi there, my name is damian and I'm 21 years old. I'M FROM Uruguay. I've seen some people saying week functions as an adjective in the chuck eight-week holiday.I'M AFRAID THAT'S NOT CORRECT. THE WHOLE CHUNCK IS THE ADJECTIVE itself and not just "week". Those are called compound adjectives

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