You are here:

General Writing and Grammar Help/compound modifier hyphenation


I deal with compound modifiers frequently in my work. Sometimes I'm not sure how to properly hyphenate them. The following is a typical example, where "Company Name" represents a generic business. Without rephrasing, how would I hyphenate this?

a non Company Name authorized service

My best guess would be "a non-Company Name-authorized service."

Thanks, Matt, for your question. Let's assume the company name is Apex. I take it you'd like to refer to a service not authorized by Apex.

There's really no good way to combine the modifiers by hyphenation. Your indicated "best guess" is probably the best you could do, but it's really not good enough. The basic test of language is whether it clearly conveys the thoughts to be expressed, and no hyphenated expression meets that test in this case. I would simply say, "A service not authorized by Apex."

I'd be interested in why you feel the need to use hyphenation for such an expression.  

General Writing and Grammar Help

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Richard Johnson


I specialize in grammar. I can however answer any question except homework questions--usually the same day--concerning English grammar, usage, or (non-fiction) writing style, on the basis of the American practice. All answers are explained, and I encourage follow-up.


I'm a retired editor and a lifelong student of this subject. My library includes a great many works to which I've referred through the years. I currently rely largely on the sixteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style supplemented, where appropriate, by Long, The New College Grammar.

For over 30 years I edited the newsletter of my own organization, which had different names but was last known as

BA, Brooklyn College. Advanced studies in economics and political science.

Awards and Honors
For many years a member of Mensa.

©2017 All rights reserved.