Why do hyphens in English adjectives matter?

by Jakub Marian

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I’ve just read a nice example of why hyphenating adjectives consisting of multiple words matters in English. Consider the following sentence:

He became the third world champion.

and compare it to this:

He became the third-world champion.

Quite a bit of difference, isn’t it? Of course, the rules for using the hyphen are somewhat more complicated than that; you can read more on the topic in my article about the hyphen, minus, en-dash, and em-dash.

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