Q. I noticed that, in your answer to a question regarding the spelling of health care vs. health-care vs. healthcare, you state the following:
For the answers to questions about word definitions and spellings, we recommend that you use a dictionary. (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, eleventh edition, is a favorite of ours.) Since “health care” is now listed as two words in Webster’s, we would follow suit. Webster’s also notes that the compound is “usually hyphenated when used attributively.”
However, I find in my American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (my favorite) that healthcare, without the hyphen, is the second spelling for the noun form of the word. Health care and health-care are listed as the spellings for the adjectival form of the word. Who to believe, who to believe?! However, you did resolve a disagreement about the use of hyphens with such prefixes as non-nonverbal, in this case. (I won, by the way). Thanks.
Q. I have an online content editor who says “mental health official” should be hyphenated: e.g., “he placed three county mental-health officials on administrative leave.” As a mental health professional, I say no. What say you?
Q. I am a consultant in the information systems industry. I am aware that the common utilization of technical tools has widely affected formal English grammar. One of the challenges I face when presenting my analysis to clients is the proper use of compounds. For example, “filesystem,” which I understand from research is not properly one word, but I see elsewhere that “hardware” and “software” are. I believe these latter are compounds simply by the fact of their commonality in day-to-day conversation. Am I simply waiting for the day that “file system” will be part of normal vernacular and blessed by CMOS to be “filesystems”? Can you clear up my confusion?
Q. With words such as “PowerPoint,” the capital letters are retained when the words are melded. Is there a label for this category of words?
Q. I am editing a medical index using the “word-by-word” system, and having some trouble with hyphenated words. Some terms, like “non-ionic,” feature a hyphenated word that is not a compound word. Does “non-ionic” come before “nonclostridial?” Also, do hyphenated compound words like “arterial-gas” come before or after a non-hyphenated compound word like “arterial oxygen?” Thanks—this is giving me a headache!
Q. I am editing a language arts textbook. The client wants to describe the activity of astronauts as “moonwalking.” As in, “When the moonwalk was completed, the astronauts were able to return to the lunar module, which would then reconnect with the command module.” Webster’s 11th Collegiate’s only definition of the closed compound is the dance move made famous by Michael Jackson. Although they probably won’t let me change it, I’d like to know if my instincts are correct and this should read “moon walk.”
Q. I am a primary teacher. I am currently teaching about compound words and have discovered that I am making errors. Some words that I thought were compound are not. However, when I look them up in different sources or look at signs, they are written both as compounds and closed. Would you please tell me how I can find a list of compound words without looking up each word in the dictionary? Thank you.
Q. I work for a journal at a government agency. The departments and committees and journals within the agency all have varying styles, especially for hyphenation and compounds, which resulted in the following really ugly title: Influenza Vaccination of Health-Care Personnel: Recommendations of the Healthcare Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). It looked even worse in big, bold type. What should we have done?
Q. What style do you recommend for the words “health care,” two words or one? If two words are preferred, do you hyphenate it when it appears as an adjective, as in health-care company? Thanks.
Q. I haven’t paid much attention to style until recently when I had to begin doing some editing of copy again. Now I find that “copyeditor” is one word. What about people who edit books? Are they bookeditors? What about newspaper editors? Are they newspapereditors? Please justify. Thanks from Ice Age copy editor.