An Age-Old Problem

Hunt and peck

“This is it, the Hunt & Peck,” Sgt. Dis Connect said.

He opened the door and let Grammar Smith walk in before him.

Grammar peered across the dim barroom. There wasn’t much going on. A few Oxford commas were in the corner, hunched over their drinks, commiserating over their lot. Slumped at the bar, nursing a cocktail, was Grammar’s prey.

“Henrietta Hyphen?” Grammar asked as she and Dis approached the bar.

“Who wants to know?”

“I’m Inspector Grammar Smith of the Department of English Language Offenses. This is Sgt. Dis Connect.” They flashed their badges.

“We’d like you to come down to the station to have a chat,” Grammar continued.

“Why?” Ms. Hyphen wasn’t exactly belligerent; she was just strongly uncooperative.

“We’ve had a complaint that you assaulted a news reporter.”

“Are you kidding me?! She actually filed a complaint? That idiot was making my life miserable. She couldn’t decide when she wanted me and when she didn’t. What an airhead!”

“What do you mean?” Grammar asked.

“She kept tryingt to throw me in places where I didn’t belong. She’d write someone was ‘24-years-old’ or, even worse, ‘18-years old.’ Then she’d write ‘the 4 year old boy’ which is totally wrong. Yeah, I got huffy and gave her a shove, but that’s not assault.”

“Hold on a second,” Grammar said. She consulted the AP Stylebook site on her tablet. (She’d been tricked before by “backyard,” which the AP says should always be one word.)

Under “ages,” she found that hyphens should only be used when an age is being used as an adjective before a noun or as a noun: the 25-year-old scotch, the 5-year-old, or the 105-year-old square dancer.

However, it should be The United States is 241 years old.

“Well, the reporter was wrong and doesn’t seem to understand how to properly punctuate compound adjectives. However, you still shouldn’t have put your hands on her,” Grammar said. “I’ll  put this down as unfounded, but stay out of trouble.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Henrietta turned back to her drink.

 

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “An Age-Old Problem

  1. It is my personal opinion, Henrietta notwithstanding, that hyphens are minions of Satan, and were designed in some dark corner of the underworld for no reason other than tormenting writers–perhaps to make an eternally burning lake look good in comparison. Now don’t get mad at me for saying so. After all, I’m a 72-year-old woman. Or maybe I’m not. Because . . . hyphens! GACK!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Again I love Grammar Smith and her partner. The one chronicling these cases deserves a great hug for finding such an interesting way to be so informative about a difficult and dry subject. I might even remember the rule so as not to get a visit from the Grammar Smith. 🙂 Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s