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Right or Left?

When writing in English, we need to be careful about compounds as some are hyphenated and some are not.

For example, the noun phrases “right wing” and “left wing” identify two major branches of political thinking. Neither of these are hyphenated.

But the phrasal adjectives “left-handed” and “right-handed,” used to identify the different hands that are dominant in humans, are hyphenated.

To check usage, try my simple trick: Google your pair of words with or without a hyphen. The predominant usage will return more web pages but be careful, the public use and “official” usage may be different. When you want to be scrupulously correct, check a good grammar book and then decide.

(July 18, 2011)

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