General Writing and Grammar Help/grammar


Hi, I was just wondering if I need to put a hyphon in 'musty-smelling', and if it is correct to use a colon in 'she heard it: the sound of footsteps'? Thanks for your help.


Since musty smelling (gerund or verb noun) is a routine adjective-noun combination, I see no reason to us the hyphen.

A colon is used when both phrases are grammatically equal. She heard it is an independent clause. The sound of footsteps is an adjective clause that modifies "it". I would use a comma instead of the colon.

Jerry Leone

General Writing and Grammar Help

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Jerry Leone


I`ve taught writing or some aspect of the English language for nearly 35 years. I can answer nearly any question on grammar, usage or meanings of words above dictionary usage. An avid crossword fan and writer, I can also answer questions about business presentations and resumes.


I have worked with words all my life as a teacher of the language and as an amateur and professional writer. Communication is a vital force in my life and everyone else's.

Sigma Delta Chi, NY Press Association, NY Publishers Association

BA in English from the University of Buffalo, MEd in English from SUNY Buffalo, MA in English Literature from SUNY Buffalo. Course work in Journalism from Syracuse Univ., in Linguistics from Rutgers Univ. and Journalism from Univ. of Texas and Ohio Univesrity.

Awards and Honors
Chancellor's Award for Excellence Teaching SUNY, Distinguished Teaching Award SUNY Morrisville, Who's Who in American Journalism Education

©2016 All rights reserved.