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Nouns, verbs and hyphenation

Posted by Wendy Wood on 17th March , 2020 in Grammar
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My husband asked me to look over a training presentation he had created for work. He’d titled one section Warm Hand Off.

I stopped reading and said, “I think hand-off should be hyphenated if it’s used as a noun. Let me look it up.”

His eyes started to glaze over, but then he responded, “Well, no, because it’s a verb there.” I said, “No, it’s not. It’s a noun.”

He asked how I could tell it was a noun and I found I couldn’t really explain!

“You’re not going to hand off something. It’s a hand-off. Warm is an adjective. If you’d written that you’re warmly handing off something, then warmly would be the adverb modifying your verb phrase of handing off,” I said.

But I’d lost him; he was already on his phone playing Candy Crush. I knew in my head the reason it was a noun but I wasn’t able to articulate it. Sometimes things are because I said so.

But now that I’ve had time to think about it, I can explain. So, let’s define the parts of speech.

Noun: a part of speech that denotes persons, places, or things, such as dog, husband, home, gentleness, faith, hand-off.

Verb: a word that expresses the occurrence of an action or an existence of a state, such as explain, write, worry, remember, be, hand off.

Wendy Wood


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