Hyphens with “ly” words – stay or go?
After so many years of not being clear on hyphenating after “ly” words, I have clarity, and I hope you will too after reading this. When I found this understandable explanation, I never hesitated again. Generally, hyphenate between two or more adjectives when they come before a noun and act as a single idea, as in these examples:
Yes, add hyphen because the first word can also describe the noun
Friendly-looking advisor – “friendly” modifies “looking” and is also (or can be used as) an adjective describing “advisor”
Motherly-looking woman – “motherly” modifies “looking” and is also (or can be used as) an adjective describing “woman”
No, don’t add hyphen because the “ly” word modifies the adjective after it
Wholly owned subsidiary – Referring to the explanation from “yes” above, “wholly” is not modifying “owned” and “wholly owned” is not a single idea before the noun “company.” “Wholly” cannot be separately used to also describe “subsidiary.” “Wholly subsidiary” doesn’t make sense.
Brightly lit room – “brightly lit” is not a compound adjective describing “room.” “Brightly” cannot be used separately to also describe “room.” “Brightly room” is incorrect.
No need for hyphens on these either!
Publicly owned company
Privately held business
Newly formed division
Actively managed portfolio
Remarkably unstable market
Badly performing stock market
Similarly rated corporate bonds
Highly correlated environment
Environmentally focused business
Say it with Steele, x C