Why do hyphens in English adjectives matter?

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more (PDF Version).

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.

By the way, if you haven’t read my guide on how to avoid the most common mistakes in English, make sure to check it out; it deals with similar topics.

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