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Compounds Ending with a Preposition or Adverb: Open, Hyphenated, or Solid?

Articles > Compounds Ending with a Preposition or Adverb

It seems as if I’m always rifling through my reference books to check whether a compound is open, hyphenated, or solid in a particular style. Movie goer, movie-goer, or moviegoer? There is no consistency, no logic apparent to the naked mind . . . or is there?

Nope. Not much. Sorry for getting your hopes up. Where a compound term lands in its journey toward becoming one word is arbitrary with a capital F-U.

Where a compound term lands in its journey toward becoming one word is arbitrary with a capital F-U.

In this post, I will discuss compound terms ending with a preposition or adverb (e.g., -in/-out, -up/-down, -on/-off, -over) and, of course, which version The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual of Style prefer. If you love lists, I’m sharing one compiled in a so-far-successful bid to avoid organ herniation from hoisting those heavy books. In short, I will run down my run-down rundown. (Note to self: Raise standard for items on my “Things to Say” bucket list.)

Looking for Patterns

First, I analyzed my list of compound nouns and compound adjectives (aka phrasal adjectives and compound modifiers) for logical patterns. I pondered questions such as, if the first element ends in a vowel and the second element begins with a vowel, are they always joined by a hyphen to keep the vowels separate and the compound readable? Then, I had a gluten-free cookie and watched some TV. Really, there is no logic. Drive-in and trade-off . . . but lineup and takeover. See?

Chalk it up to popular whim. According to CMOS 7.79, “With frequent use, open or hyphenated compounds tend to become closed (‘on line’ to ‘on-line’ to ‘online’). Chicago’s general adherence to Webster’s does not preclude occasional exceptions when the closed spellings have become widely preferred by writers (e.g., ‘website’) and pronunciation and readability are not at stake.”

According to the AP stylebook (“hyphen entry), “Use of the hyphen is far from standardized. It is optional in most cases, a matter of taste, judgment and style sense.”

Really, there is no logic. Drive-in and trade-off . . . but lineup and takeover. See?

And then they both go on and on about how to wield a hyphen. Let me break it down for you . . .

Reference Preference

Look words up in the following order. (Online dictionaries are listed at the end of the post.)

AP:

  1. AP Stylebook Online.
  2. The Associated Press Stylebook (“dictionaries” entry).
  3. Webster’s New World College Dictionary: Use the first spelling if more than one spelling is listed in the same entry. Use the spelling in the entry with a full definition if there is more than one entry. (See “dictionaries” entry.)
  4. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (“dictionaries” entry).
  5. Use hyphens to avoid confusion or to join words to form a single idea. Avoid duplicated vowels and tripled consonants. (See “hyphen” entry.)

Special notes:

  • Precede -in with a hyphen (see “-in” entry). Exception: login.
  • Hyphenate compounds ending in -down, -off, -out, -over, and -up if not found in the AP stylebook or Webster’s New World College Dictionary. Exception: charge off.

Really special note:

  • These exceptions are not acknowledged by AP, but you do the math.

Chicago:

  1. The Chicago Manual of Style (7.77–85).
  2. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary: Use the first spelling listed, even for equal variants (7.1).
  3. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (7.1).
  4. American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, or other standard dictionary (7.1).
  5. If an example or analogy cannot be found in the above, hyphenate sparingly and only to enhance readability (7.85).

Special notes:

  • The Chicago Manual of Style is not set up like The Associated Press Stylebook, meaning it doesn’t contain, as AP puts it in its table of contents, “an A to Z listing of guides to capitalization, abbreviation, spelling, numerals and usage.” But you knew that.
  • The Chicago Manual of Style Online‘s forum and Chicago Style Q&A may use spellings which differ from those on my chart, but their authority does not override the sources prescribed in CMOS.

Often, you can identify a compound noun (ending with a preposition or adverb) from its non-compound form . . . by the way the first element is stressed.

Extra Credit: Stress Patterns in Pronunciation

Often, you can identify a compound noun (ending with a preposition or adverb) from its non-compound form (usually verb but not always) by the way the first element is stressed. You can hear the equal stress on the words make up in “Let’s kiss and make up.” Compare this to the heavier stress on make when you say “Let’s kiss and share makeup.”

More examples of stress on the first part of a compound noun (also examples of a stressful weekend): meltdown, blackout, hangover. Exception: time-out (equal stress on both elements).

Examples of equal stress on both elements of a phrasal adjective: far-off, washed-up, worn-out. Exception: wake-up (stress on first element).

I try to stick to style and avoid talking straight-up grammar, because there are so many blogs out there for that—plus I might make stuff up, like “Nounify the verbular gerundity”—but, yes, use two words when any of these play the part of a phrase consisting of a verb, noun, adjective, or participle plus a preposition or adverb. Crap, I just lost 95 percent of my readers.

  • I had a meltdown when I watched the ice cream melt down my arm.
  • I black out when there is a blackout.
  • I felt a black cloud hang over me while I had a hangover.
  • I took some time out for a timeout.

Using This Compounds List

    • Deviations by the AP stylebook from its official dictionary, Webster’s New World College Dictionary, have been noted in the “Notes and Exceptions” column.
    • The words in the “AP Style” column can be found in the AP stylebook under those word entries in the “Stylebook” section unless indicated otherwise in the “Notes and Exceptions” column.
    • It’s interesting to note that both Chicago and AP use Webster’s Third New International Dictionary as a secondary source, after their dictionaries of choice. It retails for $129, but it’s $75 on Amazon. Knock yourself out.
Note: Most of the compound terms are nouns and adjectives; exceptions have been indicated.

 

AP Style Chicago Style Notes and Exceptions
backup
blackout
blastoff
breakdown
break-in
breakup
brownout
buildup
buyout • AP book: see “leveraged buyout”
call-up
carry-on
carry-over carryover
cave-in
changeover
change-up changeup
charge off charge-off • Note: two words
• AP dictionary: no entry
check-in • AP dictionary: no entry
checkout
checkup
cleanup
close-up
cop-out
countdown
cover-up • AP dictionary: coverup
crackup crack-up
crossover
cutoff
drive-in
dropout
fade-out
fallout
far-off (adj.)
flameout
flare-up
follow-up
frame-up
grown-up
hands-off (adj.)
hangover
hang-up
head-on (adj., adv.)
hideout • AP online: hideout
• AP book: hide-out
(see “-out”)
• AP dictionary: hide-out
holdover
holdup
layoff
letup
liftoff
lineup
login log-in • Note: Closed compound contradicts AP’s hyphenated compound style for all -in constructions (see “-in”).
• AP dictionary: no entry
logoff • AP dictionary: no entry
• Chicago dictionary: no entry
logon log-on • AP dictionary: no entry
makeup
mashup • AP book: see entry in “Social Media Guidelines” section
• AP dictionary: no entry
• Chicago dictionary: no entry
meltdown • AP book: see “nuclear terminology”
mix-up
mock-up
mop-up
pat-down • AP dictionary: no entry
• Chicago dictionary: no entry
pickup
pileup
playoff play-off
pullout
pullup pull-up • AP dictionary: pull-up
pushup push-up • AP dictionary: push-up
putout
rip-off
rollover
roundup
rundown rundown (n.),

run-down (adj.)

• AP dictionary: rundown (n.), run-down (adj.)
sellout
send-off
setup
shake-up
shape-up
shoutout shout-out • Note: only listed on AP Stylebook Online
• AP dictionary: no entry
showoff show-off
shutdown
shut-in
shut-off shutoff
shutout
sign-up • AP dictionary: no entry
sit-down
sit-in
situp sit-up • AP dictionary: sit-up
slowdown
smashup
speedup
spinoff spin-off
stand-in
standoff
standout
startup start-up • AP dictionary: start-up
stopover
takeoff
takeout takeout (n.),

take-out (adj.)

takeover
takeup take-up
thumbs-down • AP dictionary: no entry
thumbs-up • AP dictionary: no entry
tie-in
tie-up
timeout time-out • Note: AP says that this is an exception to the dictionary, but they match.
tipoff tip-off • AP dictionary: tipoff for basketball term meaning “jump ball”; otherwise,tip-off
trade-in
trade-off
tryout
tuneup tune-up
wake-up (adj.)
walk-in
walkout
walkover
walk-up
washed-up (adj.)
washout
windup
workout
worn-out (adj.)
write-down
write-in

 

Thanks for making it to the end! If you can find a way to turn this into a drinking game, then give me a heads-up.

Online Dictionaries

 

Em Dashes and Ellipses: Closed or Spaced Out?

Articles > Em Dashes and Ellipses

You might be wondering why I’ve paired the em dash with the ellipsis. Doesn’t the em dash usually get grouped with the en dash and the hyphen? Or, less commonly, with the comma, the colon, and the parenthesis? Sure . . . but those set you up for a discussion on usage, not style. (Please consult your favorite grammar book or blog for notes on usage.) If you look at these marks with style in mind, the ellipsis is most similar to the em dash.

If you look at these marks with style in mind, the ellipsis is most similar to the em dash.

This is the basic difference in how ellipses are rendered in AP style and Chicago style:

AP (p. 369): An ellipsis consists of three periods, with a space before and after.

  • Hey, guys … what’re you all laughing about? Are you gonna eat that?

Chicago (13.48): An ellipsis consists of three spaced periods, with a space before and after.

  • Love is . . . retweeting.

So AP’s ellipsis is three dots shoved together, Chicago’s ellipsis is spaced out, and they both like spaces around the dots. Got it. A complication arises when people insist on using the ellipsis closed (i.e., without spaces between the dots). In that case, I recommend that you omit the space on both sides when attempting to follow Chicago style; this will match Chicago’s spacing preference for the em dash.

So AP’s ellipsis is three dots shoved together, Chicago’s ellipsis is spaced out, and they both like spaces around the dots. Got it.

I do hope that I’m the only one who works with account executives who make editorial decisions based on how pretty something looks rather than how much sense it makes. If not, let’s start a support group. We can sit around, looking forlorn but hopeful. The group will be called Hyphens Are Not Ugly.

There’s a part in The Chicago Manual of Style (13.48) which says that you, the writer, can use the three-dot glyph provided in word processors (Option-; or Alt-0133), but we, the editors, are just going to change it to the properly spaced version—with nonbreaking spaces between each period, of course. Nice. Likewise, if the author types two hyphens to represent an em dash, the double hyphen will be converted to a proper em dash. It’s quite janitorial in nature, but I suppose much of editing is.

If you begin a line with an em dash or ellipsis, the only reason you would insert a space before is to drive your editor nuts.

This is the basic difference in how em dashes are rendered in AP style and Chicago style:

AP (p. 368): An em dash, like an ellipsis, has a space before and after, except when used to introduce items in a vertical list.

  • When she called her cats — Chardonnay, Patron and Guinness — the neighbors came running.

Chicago (2.13): An em dash has no space before or after, unless you’re doing some fancy word-replacing maneuvers with a 2-em dash.

  • Glitter, felt, yarn, and buttons—his kitchen looked as if a clown had exploded.
  • Miss S—— killed Professor P—— with a candlestick in the study.

If you begin a line with an em dash or ellipsis, the only reason you would insert a space before is to drive your editor nuts.

It’s easy to remember which gets what space where if you make a connection between the style’s intent and the resulting style.

It’s easy to remember which gets what space where if you make a connection between the style’s intent and the resulting style. (See “Different Goals, Different Styles: Why AP and Chicago Are Not Friends.”) If AP style governs journalism, expect it to be condensed (hence the three unspaced dots for the ellipsis) and easily broken across two lines (via a space before and after the em dash and the ellipsis) to accommodate the space limitations and fast turnaround.

An enthusiastic subscriber to the four-dot-method ellipsis style (Chicago, 13.51), I was thrilled when I saw the period-plus-ellipsis construction in the copy the client provided. This is extremely rare in advertising; well, good grammar is extremely rare. Then, immediately, it was followed by sentences containing five dots and then eight dots. Then fourteen.

I burn through red pens quickly.