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Shortlist versus short-list: when to hyphenate

Posted by Wendy Wood on 24th November , 2020 in Grammar
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I was editing an article last week and ran across the words short-list and longlist.

My husband says I’m a broken record about this (actually, he says I’m a broken record about quite a lot of things), but I can’t stress enough how important it is to use your dictionary!

Words you might think are one word could actually be two. Or something you might believe is hyphenated could be just one word. Or the noun and verb forms may be different. English is weird like that!

Let’s take a closer look at short list, short-list and longlist to understand why a dictionary is so darned important.

short list: noun. A list of especially favoured candidates for a position, promotion, etc., who have been selected from a larger group of applicants.

short-list: verb. To put (someone) on a short list.

longlist: verb. 1.  to select (a candidate) for a first list from which a short list is drawn.
               noun. 2.  such a list.

See what I mean? It’s short list as a noun, but to short-list someone is hyphenated. And then to throw a monkey wrench in there, you can longlist someone to a longlist. So, let’s play that record again: USE YOUR DICTIONARY!

Wendy Wood
Proofreader

 

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