OK. I know the answer to the title question. It mostly depends on the editorial style guide you use. But, if the words are used as a compound adjective before a noun, most editors will agree they should be hyphenated. If they’re used as a predicate noun, the hyphen apparently isn’t required. I prefer the hyphen.
I suppose you’d have to actually be anal retentive (or anal-retentive) to even care.
I tend to straighten bar stools and chairs in restaurants as I walk by. It takes all my self control (self-control? … whatever) to not do so. When I worked for a gym in Santa Barbara, I would unconsciously straighten the café stools every time I walked through the lobby. After several months, I learned that other staff would mess them up when they saw me coming just to watch me align them again. One day, I caught them all grinning wickedly as I ‘fixed’ the stools.
|CAFÉ CON LECHE. WRONG (LEFT) AND RIGHT … (RIGHT).|
When I have my morning coffee downstairs at El Sanedrín, I like the cup and saucer to match. The restaurant has Candelas* (the coffee company) cups and saucers. Some display the company logo in brown and white with an orange band, and others are in brown and white only. (In case you’re wondering, I prefer the design without the orange.) The staff all know what I’m like; it’s a running joke. The cup and saucer should match, and they should be aligned. I don’t complain. My anal-retentiveness (hyphen or no) is my own issue and I do my best to not get carried away. However, if the cup and saucer aren’t aligned when delivered, I align them myself before I start drinking. If they don’t match, I cope. Oddly, if they weren’t intended to match, I wouldn’t care. I love mix-and-match. Go figure.
|VANESSA HANGING HER HEAD IN SHAME.|
Vanessa always proudly points out the beautifully aligned and matched cup and saucer as she serves me. She did so again yesterday. So I pulled out my camera and showed her a photo of what she had served the day before. I had aligned the cup and saucer before taking the photo. They didn’t match. Vanessa was stunned. She has been very pleased to be learning a new English word or phrase every day. So, I taught her a very important expression. With perfect diction, she can now say, “I hang my head in shame.”
Can Cats Be Obsessive-Compulsive?
That’s just a nicer way of saying anal-retentive. Dudo is a creature of habit. If something is done once, it’s a routine. Dudo insists on placing his toy mouse in the center of his food dish. He leaves it there for a while and then moves it to his water bowl. If San Geraldo or I remove the mouse, Dudo tracks it down and puts it right back. Moose doesn’t like to eat from the dish or drink from the bowl containing the mouse. (Maybe that’s why Dudo does it. Moose is kind of a big eater and Dudo is slim.)
|MOOSE AVOIDING MOUSE.|
When San Geraldo finds the mouse soaking in the water bowl, he wraps it in his own hand towel (!!!) and leaves it on the bathroom counter. Dudo sniffs it out and retrieves it. When I find the mouse soaking in the water bowl, I wash it in the kitchen sink and hang it on the clothesline to dry. (Note: If I find out San Geraldo has used his hand towel to dry the mouse, I throw the towel in the laundry basket and put out a new one.)
|MOUSE HANGING ON THE LINE LAST NIGHT.
I WONDER WHAT THE NEIGHBORS THINK.