The Hyphen

To find out whether or not a word is hyphenated, it is advisable to consult a dictionary.

The following rules, however, will be useful in solving certain problems in the use of the hyphen:

• Use a hyphen with all prefixes before proper nouns and with prefixes ex-, self-, and all- before a noun.

anti-German, pro-British, ex-president, self-addressed, all-star

Use a hyphen in compound numbers from twenty-one to ninety-nine. Hyphenate fractions when they are used as adjectives before words they modify.

a two-thirds majority, three-fourths cupful

Hyphenate a prepositional phrase that is considered a single adjective.

behind-the-scenes agreement, out-of-doors exercise, up-to-the-minute information

Hyphenate compound adjectives but not when they are predicate adjectives.

well-planned schedule His schedule is well planned.

soft-spoken man That man is soft spoken.

sinister-looking house The house is sinister looking.

dark-colored glasses His glasses are dark colored.

Use a hyphen to prevent confusion or awkward spelling.

re-form prevents confusion with reform. semi-invalid avoids confusion with semiinvalid

Use a hyphen to divide words between syllables at the end of a line. Consult the spelling section of this handbook or a dictionary to find the correct placement of the hyphen at the end of a line.

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  • David
    Where to hyphenate spectacles at the end of a line?
    8 years ago
  • selene
    When to hyphenate behind the scenes?
    8 years ago
  • Martha
    Is behind the scenes hyphenated?
    8 years ago

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