“While surfing the Web the other day, I smiled when I read about the pet shop that offered to help clients choose a well adjusted lizard. Would that be an “adjusted lizard” who is healthy? The confusion in this phrase stems from one small omission; the reptile should be described as a well-adjusted lizard. Without the hyphen, the single idea of well-adjusted, meaning emotionally stable, is severed and the separate words produce a different meaning: a well-adjusted lizard is not the same as an adjusted reptile who is healthy or well. Though their impact is not always immediately obvious, hyphens contribute to the clarity of our language.”
By Sheila Sanders (2003).
To read the rest of Ms Sanders’ article, click here.