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hyphens: suspended compounds

When two or more compound adjectives contain the same word, to avoid repetition, writers usually omit that word from the compound(s) at the beginning of the series. Thus, first-class and second-class fares becomes simply first- and second-class fares, with the word class omitted in the first compound adjective.

Note that the hyphen before the omitted word is retained: first- and second-class fares (not first and second-class fares).

This structure is called a “suspended compound.” Here are some more examples:

  • high- and low-pressure turbine
  • interest- or revenue-producing schemes
  • short- and long-term plans
  • two-, four- and six-metre widths