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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Is This Title Well-Designed?

No!  A grammar error lurks in the title above.  Is it still a mystery, or are you a world class grammarian?  (Ack!  I did it again!) 

Did you give up, or are you thinking it has something to do with the hyphen?  If you think it's the hyphen, you're right.  Did you ever wonder why sometimes well designed has a hyphen, and yet other times you've seen it without one?  

Here's the rule:

Hyphenate a compound adjective when it precedes the word it modifies.


a well-designed engine
The engine was well designed.

a world-famous skier
The skier is world famous.

the well-known actor
The actor was well known

the soft-spoken woman
The woman was soft spoken.

*Note:  Do not use a hyphen if one of the modifiers ends in ly.


a partly finished research paper

a heavily loaded truck

I hope this little-known rule  has helped clear up a small mystery in the world of grammar.  Happy writing!


  1. Yes, I knew this, but thanks for the reminder! You explained it in a way I hope to remember this time! And I love your titles! I bookmarked your site and will visit again. another retired teacher, but of elementary students!

  2. I so need this. I will be following you closely, both as a writer and as a homeschooling mom. Post Away!

  3. Actually, it's very helpful. I didn't know you don't use a hyphen with an "ly" word. Thank you!

  4. I love this! Your website is going into my Favorites! What a neat way to get a lesson across.

  5. I am following you and posting the link to both of my homeschool groups.

  6. Hyphens used to nail me on a regular basis, but I've been getting the hang of it lately. This presented it quite well. Thank you!!

  7. I'm glad to know there are people out there in the writing world who find this helpful. Thanks, everyone, for the comments.

  8. Greetings! Are you an often online user or you prefer live communication?