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Hello, I have a specific grammar-related question. If I am using a dash for words such as "fifth-grade", what happens to the dash in a list? For instance: "The fifth and sixth-grade students were in the gym." Should there be a dash after "fifth", as in: "The fifth- and sixth-grade students were in the gym", or no dash? Thank you!

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Hello, Ana, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

@Ana4316 posted:

If I am using a dash for words such as "fifth-grade", what happens to the dash in a list? For instance: "The fifth and sixth-grade students were in the gym." Should there be a dash after "fifth", as in: "The fifth- and sixth-grade students were in the gym" . . .

What you are calling a dash is actually a hyphen, which is much smaller than a dash. Yes, if you are using a hyphen in a phrase like "sixth-grade students," and you want to add the other grade level before, you should use another hyphen.

"Fifth- and sixth-grade students" is short for "fifth-grade and sixth-grade students," the hyphen clarifying that "fifth" modifies "grade" rather than "students." This is called suspensive hyphenation. Other examples:

  • Billy has made friends with a number of five- and six-year-olds.
  • Tonight I won't have time to watch a two- or three-hour movie.
  • She drank a sugar- and caffeine-free soda pop with her lunch.
Last edited by David, Moderator

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