a family-owned and -operated business

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Hello - I am editing a piece and have been banging my head against the wall because I am unsure how to punctuate the following phrase:

Theirs is a family-owned and -operated business. [I think this is technically correct but am unsure. I hate the dangling hyphen; but, if this is correct, then I'll have to use it and move on.]

I'm also thinking that:

a family-owned-and-operated business


a family owned and operated business

could work, too.

Which of the three is the way to go, in your opinion?

  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    The hyphenated versions seem slightly more correct to me. But I feel that the no-hyphen version is better to use. It is less messy, less awkward. It is not incorrect (as far as I can tell). It is not ambiguous -- the phrase is so very common that nobody needs hyphens to understand what is meant.
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