The Scourge Of Hyphens

Dec 5 2012 @ 7:35am

Jen Doll divulges her grammatical pet peeve:

While we bow to the elegance of the em-dash (hats off to you, lovely madam) and admire the skillful writer who knows how to employ the unicorn that is the en-dash (a very special mark, learn more about his charms here), the commonplace hyphen is everywhere and nowhere, a generic entity oft subbed for the real thing (i.e., the em- or en-dash), used willy-nilly, thrown in when one feels like it, as if it's salt or pepper being added to a stew. It is not! It is a hyphen. It should not just be added — added — added – and the reader then tasked with making heads or tails of it, too-salty, not-enough-seasoning, simply-wrong. And when it is used as a hyphen, for the express purpose of hyphenating something, it's often wrong, too. This-is-so-very-jarring.

She turns to the Purdue Online Writing Lab, which summarizes the basics of the punctuation mark's proper deployment.