The en dash vs. the hyphen: more examples for precise English usage

As I wrote in my first post about the en dash and as I explain more extensively in the hyphen vs. en dash section of my grammar page, the en dash can provide wonderful clarity where the hyphen cannot in compound modifiers that already contain a space or a hyphen. Here are some more excellent examples of where the en dash is not only preferable but absolutely necessary for clarity.

single-base mismatch–discriminatable stringent conditions

GEF-H1–RhoA–ROCK–c-Myc–microRNA–p21 signaling axis [GEF-H1 and c-Myc are hyphenated, so a hyphen is unequivocally wrong (a slash would also be fine, though). Saito et al. 2010, J. Exp. Med. 207:2157–2174]

iodine–potassium iodide solution

long-term culture–initiating cells

Twi1p–guide scnRNA complexes

plant-pathogenic bacteria vs. plant–pathogen interactions [the first compounds plant-pathogenic into a single adjective; the second connects plant and pathogen, which are separate organisms that interact]

queen–worker caste determination [a hyphen would compound queen and worker into a single noun or adjective, like plant-pathogenic above]

cell wall integrity–related genes [with a hyphen, it means cell wall genes that are related to integrity]

partial hepatectomy–induced liver regeneration

Se-substituted methionine–containing protein

the combination grocery store–liquor store–short-order restaurant [Stephen King, Wolves of the Calla]

HBV pX–associated protein 8 [a hyphen would mean a pX-associated protein of hepatitis B virus, whereas the actual protein is associated with HBV pX. This distinction is vital when you consider other protein names, such as, you know, the actual HBV protein X.]

GGDEF/EAL domain protein–coding gene [this means a gene encoding a GGDEF/EAL domain protein; with a hyphen, it would mean a protein-coding gene that has a GGDEF/EAL domain]

Here are some examples of when I think you could get by (people probably do) with the hyphen, but the en dash looks and feels better because it’s more accurate:

G418 and ganciclovir–doubly resistant colonies [you would hyphenate G418-resistant and ganciclovir-resistant, so I think you’d still have to hyphenate (or en-dashinate) when doubly is added]

fluorescent protein–tagged AP2-L–expressing parasites

anti–platelet aggregation [with a hyphen, I don’t know, would it mean aggregation of anti-platelets or an anti-platelet agent that you’re shortening to “anti-platelet”?]

100 Å–scaled protein particles

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