Contemporary essays, fiction, and opinion offered regularly by author Anne Brandt.

Question for the week
Is there anything wrong with the following phrase? "It cost less to reuse boxes than to buy new ones."
Rules of the Games
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Linda from San Diego asks...
Can you help settle a debate? What is the correct usage of the almighty hyphen for describing someone's age? For example, when describing a young adult, is it correct to write 20-year-old student with hyphens or 20 year old student without hyphens? If one wants to omit "student" what would be correct: 20 year old or 20-year-old. My reputation is on the line so your assistance is much appreciated!!
Anne answers...
The hyphen is indeed almighty if your reputation is on the line because of it. First, when describing a young adult, you would say he or she is "a 20-year-old student," using the hyphens and using the article "a" in front. If you omit the word student, then you would say he or she is "20 years old," with no hyphens.
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