Spiffing y'all up, one typo at a time
Hey, y’all. Of course, I’ve been watching TV again . . .
Yesterday, on Good Morning America, I saw a very happy viewer in the Times Square crowd with a sign worded JUST LIKE THIS:
Bless her blissfully wedded heart. My more astute readers will notice there are quite a few TGB topics (past and future) contained in that one piece of poster board. Today, I’ve decided to tackle one that’s very high on my I-notice-it-a-lot-and-it-really-drives-me-crazy list.
It has to do with the phrase “14 year.” And no, it’s not jealousy on the part of this divorcée over the length of their marriage.
It’s the missing hyphen.
In the phrase “7-year itch,” the number and the first noun (“year”) are bound together forever, until death do them part. That’s because without each other, the phrase would be nonsense. It’s not a “7 itch.” Nor is it a “year itch.” And when you have two words working together, jointly acting as one adjective, they form a new union and become a compound adjective. (Cue the dove release.)
Thus, as a symbol of their love and devotion and attachment to each other, you need to use a hyphen between them.
Can’t decide if the phrase you’re using is a compound adjective? Think about the following. In kindergarten (or preschool, if your family was uptown like that), you should have learned that:
OK, perhaps you didn’t learn THAT exactly. What I was meaning to remind you of is that when you have more than one of something, then it’s plural. And when a noun is plural you add “s” (or something similar to that). If you have a number that’s greater than 1 followed by a noun that is NOT plural, then you know you need a hyphen. 90-day guarantee. 3-week trial. 5-second rule.
If you actually have only one of whatever you’re writing about, then substitute a larger number and see what happens! If “4-day weekend” requires a hyphen, so does “1-day weekend.” (That would also require more champagne. And a new job.)
Take a look at the store signs, commercials, and Facebook posts around you. See how many times you spot a number plus a noun that are missing their hyphen. And then you can be driven as crazy as I am. (Hence the need for all that champagne.)