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Language Services
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550 Cumberland,
Room M292
Ottawa ON Canada
K1N  6N5

Tel.: 613-562-5634
Fax: 613-562-5117

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Writing Guide

Usage briefs and problem words

Full-time or full time? (to hyphenate or not to hyphenate...that is the question)

Hyphenation: List of commonly hyphenated words and expressions

Resumé or Résumé?



Full-time or full time? (to hyphenate or not to hyphenate...that is the question)

Is the hyphenation in this sentence correct?

- Full-time students can’t work full time and expect to get top grades.

Yes, it is.

When full-time is placed before the noun, it is a compound adjective and takes a hyphen. When placed after a verb, it becomes an adverbial phrase and no longer needs a hyphen. It’s as if you wrote “Full-time students can’t work all day and expect….” You wouldn’t hyphenate “all day” in this case.

The same logic applies to part-time:

- Part-time students take courses part time.

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Hyphenation: List of commonly hyphenated words and expressions

Generally, compound words placed before the noun they modify become a single unit of meaning and need a hyphen. At uOttawa, be sure to always hyphenate the following expressions as shown; leaving the hyphen out not only hinders readability but can also change the meaning, sometimes with comical results:


- Hazardous-waste management (vs. hazardous waste management, meaning the management is hazardous)

- Hazardous-waste disposal (vs. hazardous waste disposal, meaning the waste disposal is being done hazardously)

- Infectious-disease monitor (vs. infectious disease monitor, meaning the disease monitor is infectious)

- Part-time student (but study part time—no hyphen)

- Full-time student (but study full time—no hyphen)

- On-campus housing

- In-class assignment

- Take-home exam

- Three-credit courses

- Six-credit courses

- Non-credit courses

- Campus-wide services

- Off-campus housing

- Second-language course

- Long-term plan/short-term plan

- Small-business grant (vs. small business grant, meaning the amount given was small)


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Resumé or Résumé?

Use the first spelling (no accent on the first "e") because it reflects not only the Canadian Oxford spelling but also the English pronunciation. Only the final "e" is pronounced with the "ay" sound of the French accent.


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Last updated: 2011.03.17