Knowing when to properly use hyphens is often confusing. Hyphenating minute measurements can be especially challenging. However, numbers still follow the same set of rules regarding when and when not to hyphenate. Minutes are usually only hyphenated when they're used in a sentence or phrase as a compound adjective to describe a noun. Whether or not to hyphenate numbers also depends on the way the number is written. When spelled out, numbers one through ten do not require a hyphen. If you spell out 23, though, it's written "twenty-three."
Using hyphenation for minutes
Examine the phrase or sentence you've written or plan to write. Pay close attention to the sentence structure and how minutes will be used in the sentence.
Determine whether you're using the number of minutes as an adjective to describe a noun. If so, hyphenate. For example, "Lisa took a 30-minute jog" is hyphenated between the number and minute measurement because it specifically describes the duration of Lisa's jog.
Refrain from hyphenating the number of minutes if they're not modifying the noun. For example, you wouldn't hyphenate "Lisa's jog lasted 30 minutes" because in this case, "30 minutes" isn't an adjective.
Tips & Warnings
- An easy rule of thumb in most cases is that it's not necessary to hyphenate when the word "minute" ends in "s." For example, you wouldn't put a hyphen before "minutes" in the sentence "Joey showered for 15 minutes." However, it is correct to hyphenate in this case: "Joey took a 15-minute shower." Let the presence or absence of an "s" after "minute" be your guide.
- With numbers greater than 10 such as "forty-three," it's acceptable and usually less confusing to write the number as "43." If you're spelling out a hyphenated number as a compound adjective, write the number as you normally would and disregard the hyphen between the number and "minute." For example, you'd write "We took a 25-minute break." However, if you spelled out the number, you'd write "We took a twenty-five minute break."
- The hyphenation rule with minutes applies to most number-based adjectives. For example, "Mike caught a 12-pound fish" or "Bill bought Tiffany a 24-karat diamond ring."
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