Hyphens, Early Birds, and Clarity of Meaning

The Free Cozy Grammar Newsletter with Marie Rackham and Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma

We have a chock-full newsletter for you this month, with an announcement of an early-bird special, an introduction to our free Learning Treasure Trove, a surprising way to win a free lifetime subscription to our Basic Cozy Grammar and Punctuation Combo, and a mini-lesson from me and Marie about hyphens.

First, the announcement. Although summer's just around the corner, we know intrepid teachers, eager learners, and forward-looking families like to get their curriculum in place well in advance, believing the excellent saying "The early bird gets the worm."

(You may have noticed, by the way, that there aren't any hyphens in "The early bird gets the worm" while there is a hyphen in "early-bird special." If you're curious to learn why, read on for this month's videos and our lesson on hyphens.)

To celebrate the early birds, from now until June 15th we're offering a 20% discount on our 1-Year Basic Cozy Grammar and Punctuation Combo and a 30% discount on our Lifetime Basic Cozy Grammar and Punctuation Combo.

Use the coupon code EARLYBIRD20 to receive a 20% discount on our 1-Year Combo or the coupon code EARLYBIRD30 to receive a 30% discount on our Lifetime Combo.

These are the largest discounts that we offer and we only do so once a year.

This month, however, we're also offering a way to win a free lifetime subscription to our Basic Cozy Grammar and Punctuation Combo. It involves a treasure hunt in our new Learning Treasure Trove.

Hyphens, Early Birds, and Early-Bird Specials

Before introducing our free Learning Treasure Trove, we have two video excerpts for you this month. They both have to do with hyphens.

As you may have seen for yourself, most basic courses on punctuation only cover the most common marks, such as periods, commas, colons, and (perhaps) semicolons.

One of the things that makes Marie's Basic Cozy Punctuation Course so special and beloved is that she doesn't hesitate to explore less common but equally important punctuation marks such as hyphens, dashes, slashes, and brackets.

Here's an excerpt from Marie's introduction to hyphens and her explanation of the first of their seven distinct uses:

Having watched Marie's introduction to hyphens, you might be wondering about the difference I pointed out earlier between "early bird" and "early-bird special."

The key has to do with how hyphens allow us to use phrasal or compound adjectives and how this use of the hyphen serves clarity of meaning. Take a peek!

You should now be able to see the difference between "early bird" and "early-bird special."

In the phrase "early bird," we have only a noun, "bird," and an adjective, "early." Since there isn't any room for confusion, we don't need a hyphen.

In the phrase "early-bird special," by contrast, we're using "early-bird" as a phrasal or compound adjective. Whenever we use a phrasal or compound adjective, there's room for confusion.

For instance, suppose we left the hyphen out: "early bird special." Someone might wonder whether we meant a special for early birds or a "bird special" that happens to be early—whatever that would mean!

Whenever a phrasal or compound adjective might cause confusion, be sure to use a hyphen. Then your writing will always embody clarity of meaning.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

While it may be true that "The early bird gets the worm," it is also true that "Slow and steady wins the race."

If you've reached this point of our newsletter, I commend you for your care and steadiness. In honor of these qualities, we've put together a special treasure hunt to introduce our free Learning Treasure Trove.

The Treasure Trove gathers together in one place on our website all of our free videos, tips, ideas, lessons, tricks, and creative writing activities. You can easily search for specific topics, such as adjectives, verbs, sentences, or gratitude, and explore specific ideas and themes, such as writing activities, imagination, or the grammar police.

And to get you started, we've hidden a surprise for you in the Treasure Trove. If you're the first person to find it, you'll receive a free lifetime subscription to our Basic Cozy Grammar and Punctuation Combo.

You'll know that you've found it if you see the words "A Learning Treasure Trove Surprise."

And what is this surprise? Here are four clues for the treasure hunt:

  • It has something to do with spelling.
  • It has something to do with math.
  • It has something to do with gratitude.
  • And it has something to do with me being a poet-magician.

Good luck!

When you find the surprise, you'll also find a way to let us know so we can set up your free lifetime subscription.

If you have any questions about the treasure hunt, our Learning Treasure Trove, hyphens, or Cozy Grammar, please feel free to contact us.

Thank You!

Thanks so much for joining us this month. We salute both your early-bird eagerness and race-winning steadiness.

And if we've done our job, you now know why we used those hyphens!

I hope this finds you well and wish you the very best for the summer.

Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma



Marie's Language Consultant
The Cozy Grammar Series of Courses