My New Comma
Since the first grade, I have struggled with commas and still do not confidently know when they are appropriate. And I am not alone. Every grammar program seems to have different opinions on where to place a comma. Of course, there are rules, guides and textbooks. Yet there are “exceptions to every rule.”
Unfortunately, a new grammar nemesis has crept into my life. Hyphens join two words together, and they are used to break up a big word so that we can continue the word on the following line. This saves space, but fortunately, this second use has fallen out of favor.
Hyphens are an added modifier to connect two words. “pre-heat” “mid-July” “ex-mayor” “de-ice” Or a combination. “red-orange” Or a device that substitutes the word “to.” “1926-1935.” And lastly, numbers. “thirty-two.”
That kind of hyphen use made sense to me, but my grammar checkers have been correcting me lately. They add hyphens to all kinds of words with no apparent logic. For this blog, I looked up a bunch of examples:
expect four-week delay
a family-owned cafe
a two-year-old
six-centimeter caterpillar
a high-school senior
I disagree with every example. Why the heck do we need a hyphen for know-it-all? Does that help the reader? When a reader speaks that phrase, is it supposed to rhyme? Sing it with me! Know-it-all, know-it-all, that’s how we all fall. Does the hyphenated “know-it-all” look more professional? Does it look proper? Do sophisticated writers insert hyphens like rain? I don’t think so, but somebody once determined that specific phrases require hyphens.
If we look at books from the 2000s, there were fewer hyphens. Two-year-old? That’s new. I do not know why hyphens suddenly became fashionable. However, I need to learn when they are now appropriate. Gahhh! Another issue to add to my grammar battle.
It seems like extra hyphens are here to stay, which means that my four regular blog readers are-in-for-a-wild-ride.

You’re the best -Bill
February 22, 2023
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