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Trick or treat or trick-or-treat?

Halloween is here, with writers everywhere scratching their heads. What’s the correct phrase for the Beggar’s Night tradition that sends costumed children through neighborhoods to collect candy?

Is it trick or treating, or is it trick-or-treating?

Certainly, the English language overflows with spelling and grammar exceptions. We’ve also become rather sloppy, when it comes to correct usage.

But here’s the general rule, when we talk about trick or treating.

Used as an adjective, the phrase is hyphenated. Used as a verb or noun, it is generally not. 

Consider these examples.

  1. Katie wore a feathered hat for trick or treating.
  2. Trick-or-treat candy always seems to taste better on-the-run.
  3. Dozens of trick or treaters raced to the porch, where a basket of candy sat unattended.
  4. What is your trick-or-treat costume this year?
  5. Are you taking your children to trick or treat on Halloween?
  6. My scariest trick-or-treating memory had something to do with a guy in a Santa suit with a scary-looking mask.
  7. “Trick or treat! Trick or treat! Give us something good to eat,” the children shouted, as Patty opened her front door.
  8. Do kids still play tricks, if they don’t receive treats on Halloween?

See? That’s not so tricky at all.

Trick or treat or trick-or-treat
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1 comment:

  1. We didn't have but a handful of kids come to the door to Trick or Treat; and these days no one tricks....not like we did as kids for fun. Everyone is to sue happy.


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