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Hyphenation of compound adj.

Posted by R. Berg on May 13, 2003

In Reply to: Grammar mavens - a question posted by ESC on May 13, 2003

: : : "Coal-mine subsidence means the collapse of an underground coal mine resulting in damage to a surface structure."

: : : I made "coal mine" (the noun) two words because that's the way the United Mine Workers do it. I hyphenated "coal-mine" (the adjective) using the compound modifier rule in the AP Stylebook. Am I right or wrong?

: : It's certainly the way I would have done it - so we're either both right, or ....

: I think we're right. I have some engineers editing my copy (heaven help me).

Strictly speaking, "coal mine" needs a hyphen when used as an adjective. Some publishers (and even more writers) omit the hyphen when possible misunderstanding is not an issue.

You can't count on engineers to know about hyphens.