Monday, August 23, 2010

Hyphens: Not-so-Smart Water


Kelsey writes:
Dear Snarky,
I was leafing through this month's Vanity Fair, and I saw this ad with Jennifer Aniston for Smart Water. I remember an earlier post about hyphens, so I think there should be a hyphen between 'pure' and 'tasting.' Am I right?

Kelsey, my heart is positively swelling with pride. You've made my day! The type in the photo is too small to read, so here is the passage that appears under the headline:
for me, it always comes back to the basics: jeans, t-shirt...and crisp, pure tasting water. (some things never go out of style.)

Nothing goes out of style except, apparently, capitalization. But we'll let that go because we can chalk it up to a stylistic thing.

Where does Smart Water go wrong? It fails to hyphenate a compound adjective.
  • Pure tasting water is pristine water that is intended for tasting. Let's have a glass of the tasting water, as opposed to the waste water.
  • Pure-tasting water is water that tastes pure.

Quick rules:
  • Use a hyphen between two words that work together to describe a noun, when the compound adjective comes directly before the noun. Tom wore his brand-new shirt.
  • Don't use a hyphen when the two words come after the noun. Tom wore a shirt that was brand new.
  • Don't use a hyphen when the first word in a compound modifier is an adverb that ends in '-ly.' She decided not to buy the poorly restored painting.

Correction: for me, it always comes back to the basics: jeans, t-shirt...and crisp, pure-tasting water. (some things never go out of style.)

1 comment:

  1. It’s very interesting things that Smart Water fails to hyphenate a compound adjective. Thanks for sharing the post.

    ReplyDelete