Hard earned/hard-earned? (hyphens)

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Senior Member
Should I use the hyphened one?
Example "He is carrying his hard-earned/earned money"
When should we use hyphens when combining two words to form adjectives?
  • envie de voyager

    Senior Member
    My "rule of thumb" is to use a hyphen if the phrase might be confusing without a hyphen.

    "Hard earned money" is such a common phrase that it is easy to understand without a hyphen. But, if you insert a hyphen, I don't think anyone will say you are wrong.


    In such case the hypen is used in AmE more then in the BrE I think.

    The adjectives are ordered to their meaning into groups.
    If two single adjectives from the same group make the complex adjective we sometimes put commas between them.

    Nobody knows why has he been dating a horrible, ugly woman instead of beautiful, lively, exciting girls.
    Last edited by a moderator:


    Senior Member
    English - Barbadian/British/educated in US universities blend
    I suggest using a hyphen to avoid any confusion. Without any punctuation between two adjectives, it is left to the reader to interpret whether you mean, "hard, earned money" or "hard-earned money". The two are very different.

    If it is "hard-earned money" you mean, I find it easier to simply insert the hyphen so you say what you mean instead of relying on the fact that it is a common phrase. That way you'll cultivate good habits for when you need to write some not-so-common phrases.


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    There are several previous threads on this subject, which you will find if you enter hyphens in the Look-up box at the top of the page. For instance, this one may be useful:
    Note: We ask you to make a search for existing threads before starting a new one. See Searching the Forum for suggestions.
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