rules for using hyphen

10 Simple Rules for Using Hyphen “-” (With Sample Sentences)

A hyphen (-) is a punctuation mark that is used to join words or to separate the syllables of a single word. It’s not like a simple dash or something. It is usually used with a compound modifier when the modifier comes before the word it’s modifying. If you don’t know what compound modifier is then let me tell you it is a compound of two or more attributive words: that is, two or more words that collectively modify a noun.

Let’s a Hyphens’ main purpose is to glue words together. They notify the reader that two or more elements in a sentence are linked. Although there are rules and customs governing hyphens, there are also situations when writers must decide whether to add them for clarity. Hyphens’ main objective is to glue all the words together and to make the reader understand that how elements are linked in a sentence. People tend to use it wrongly most of the times, for this purpose let’s see some of the simple rules for suing a Hyphen.

1. Hyphen with Two-Word Adjectives before Nouns

Using hyphens to connect words is easy but choosing the appropriate words which makes sense is difficult. A compound modifier is made up of two words that work together to act like an adjective so when you connect it through a hyphen it makes a sense to the readers as a one unit meaning.

Examples:

  • Don’t take down any load-bearing walls when renovating.
  • This rock-hard cake is absolutely impossible to eat.

So, generally hyphen is used when two words are functioning together as an adjective before the noun. If the noun comes first then leave the hyphen out.

So, you don’t need a hyphen in the following:

Examples:

  • This wall is load bearing.
  • It’s impossible to eat this cake because it is rock hard.

Plus there is one more thing, you also don’t need a hyphen when your modifier is made up of an adverb and an adjective.

  • Do you expect me to believe this clearly-impossible story? (Incorrect)

Do you expect me to believe this clearly impossible story? (Correct)

2. Hyphens with Participles

When we combine a noun or adjective and a present participle to form a unit of meaning that describes another word, use a hyphen to make that unit of meaning clear.

Examples:

  • There are some beautiful looking flowers in the garden. (Incorrect)

There are some beautiful-looking flowers in the garden. (Correct)

  • Fast-acting medication can be useful when one has a headache. (Incorrect, because don’t use a hyphen when the modifier comes after the noun its describing).

This medication is fast acting. (Correct)

  • The room was like a heavily-decorated chocolate box. (Incorrect, don’t use a hyphen when you are combining an adverb and a participle.

The room was like a heavily decorated chocolate box. (Correct)

3. Hyphen in a Compound Expression With a Noun and Past Participle

Compound modifiers that contain a past participle also follow the same rules as any other compound modifier. Use a hyphen when the compound goes before the verb it modifies:

Examples:

  • The municipal government is funding a community-based education system.
  • Wind-powered generators can be excellent sources of electricity.
  • Many veterinarians find meat-fed cats to be quite healthy.
  • A well-known local singer will perform tonight.

Remember one more thing, that don’t use a hyphen when the compound comes after the noun it describes.

Examples:

  • The singer performing tonight is well known.
  1. Hyphenated Compound Words

Hyphenated compound words are the ones with a hyphen between the words. Over time, many hyphenated compounds become closed compounds like teen-ager became teenager for instance. Check a dictionary if you are not sure whether to use a hyphen or not. Here are a few examples of common hyphenated compound words:

Examples:

 

  • Father-in-law
  • Master-at-arms
  • Editor-in-chief-
  • Ten-year-old
  • Factory-made
  • Seven-pack
  1. Closed Compound Words

Hyphenated words will, in general, become the closed compound words (single words without any hyphens) after some time. Email rather than e-mail, for instance, is progressively normal. On the off chance that you aren’t sure whether a word is a closed compound or a hyphenated one.

Examples:

  • Notebook
  • Superman
  • Waistcoat
  • Bookstore
  • Fireman
  1. Open Compound Words

Open compounds are normally comprised of two nouns that are utilized together to speak to a solitary thought. “Open” implies that there is a space between the two words and no hyphen. A decent word reference is the best place to check whether a compound is open or not.

Examples:

  • Living room
  • Real estate
  • Dinner table
  • Coffee mug

7. Hyphens and Numbers

Numbers between twenty-one and ninety-nine should be hyphenated when they are spelled out as it is one of the followed rules.

Examples:

  • Fifty-six bottles of pop on the wall, fifty-six bottles of cold drink, etc.
  • No, I won’t party “like it’s nineteen ninety-nine.”
  • I’ve got a hundred and twenty-two of these gizmos to sell.

8.  Hyphen in Compound Adjective with Numbers

At the point when numbers are utilized as the initial segment of a compound descriptive word, utilize a hyphen to interface them to the thing that tails them. Along these lines, the perusers realizes that the two words work like a unit to adjust another thing. This applies whether the number is composed in words or in digits. When numbers are used as the first part of a compound adjective, use a hyphen to connect them to the noun that follows them. This way, the reader knows that both words function like a unit to modify another noun. This applies whether the number is written in words or in digits.

Examples:

  • The president of the company gave a 10-minute speech to the Board of Directors.
  • He is knowledgeable in thirteenth-century politics.
  • The boy threw a rock at the second-story window.

However, a hyphen is not required if the number is the second word in the compound adjective.

Examples:

  • He is a victim of Type 2 diabetes.
  • This elevator doesn’t go down to Basement 3.
  • The president of the company gave a 10-minute speech to the Board of Directors.
  • He is knowledgeable in thirteenth-century politics.
  • The boy threw a rock at the second-story window.

However, a hyphen is not required if the number is the second word in the compound adjective.

Examples:

  • He is a victim of Type 2 diabetes.
  • This elevator doesn’t go down to Basement 3.

9. Hyphen in Compound Adjective with Fractions

When using a fraction (e.g. half or quarter) as part of a compound adjective, it should be hyphenated so the reader understands which fraction is modifying which noun.

Examples:

  • I half-wanted to commit a felony.
  • A quarter-million dollars is still a large amount of money.
  • You’ll need one-third of a pound of flour and one egg.
  • That’s a half-baked idea if I ever heard one!
  • I half-wanted to commit a suicide.
  • A quarter-million dollars is still a large amount of money.
  • You’ll need one-third of a pound of flour and one egg.

10. Hyphen with Prefixes: Ex-, Self-, All-

Use a hyphen with the prefix ex- (meaning former).

Examples:

  • Don’t sit Adam next to Martha! She’s his ex-wife!
  • Though he no longer held an official position, the ex-mayor still attended all the town’s functions.

Use a hyphen with the reflexive prefix self-.

Examples:

  • Lying on the floor beside the plant he had knocked over and chewed on, the cat looked extremely self-satisfied.
  • Do you want a self-serve or a full-serve gas station?

Make sure you don’t confuse the prefix self- with the noun self.

Examples:

  • The self serves no other.
  • When using all as a prefix, add a hyphen.
  • It’s a bad leader who thinks of himself as all-powerful.

When using high or low as part of a compound adjective, use a hyphen when the compound comes before the noun it’s modifying. Some examples of compound adjectives using high and low include high-level/low-level and high-impact/low-impact

Examples:

  • Low-flying airplanes contribute to the noise pollution in the area.
  • This car runs best on high-octane gasoline.
  • Low-income families often face more stress than their higher-income counterparts.
  • A high-interest savings account is one of the best ways to save money.

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