Tuesday, November 23, 2010

After-party or Afterparty?

Today I edited an article that contained the word “after-party.” The writer’s choice to form a noun from the words “after” and “party” by attaching them with a hyphen seemed logical. But I wasn’t sure it was the best choice.

I checked our designated dictionary, “Webster’s New World.” It does not contain the word “afterparty” (or “after-party,” for that matter). But I still wasn’t satisfied. My thinking: Who says that “after,” in this context, is a word? Can’t it be a prefix?

In the online version of Webster’s, I couldn’t figure out how to find the prefix “after-,” so I checked the hard copy of the dictionary. There it was, the “after-,” which Webster’s said was a “combining form,” (meaning you just splice it right on to the front of whatever word you’re pairing it with).

I was pleased with that answer and made the change, even writing a note in the text to explain it to the section editor. An hour later, the section editor came up to my desk. Long before I edited the piece, she had checked the archives of the publication that I work for and seen that house style demonstrates a clear house preference for the hyphenated form: after-party.

Had I worked just a little bit harder, I'd have gotten it right. Had I been lazier, I'd have gotten it right. But my half-baked efforts were just enough to assure I got it wrong.


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7 comments:

Martha Merrill Wills said...

You have no idea how happy I am to have found you today! Love the blog!

June Casagrande said...

Glad you found that helpful. I've moved most of my grammar blogging activity over to GrammarUnderground.com. Hope that's of interest, too!

The Corrugation said...

Thanks, June! I'm designing an event flyer tonight, and although flyers don't typically follow strict rules of grammar, wanted to show AFTER-PARTY correctly. Cheers! - Jim

Scott Bergstrom said...

Almost three years after you posted this, and it's still helpful Thanks. This was precisely the answer I needed.

June Casagrande said...

: )

Brian Nagami said...

Thanks! That was helpful. FYI - you spelled the word "section" incorrectly in the first sentence of paragraph 4. :)

June Casagrande said...

Thank you. (I'm gonna miss that sectoin.) : )

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