Define the use of Hyphenation

Define the use of hyphenation in the sentence structure guidelines. CC_ID 06187

Avoid using hyphens, because many words that once were hyphenated are now written as one word or as two words without a hyphen. To check whether a compound noun is two words, one word, or hyphenated, you may need to look it up in the dictionary. If you can't find the word in the dictionary, treat the noun as separate words. With that said, there are a few rules you can follow (actually there's a bunch you need to know if you don't want to just look up the words, which is easier).

General Rule 1: Compound verbs

Compound verbs are either hyphenated or appear as one word. If you do not find the verb in the dictionary, hyphenate it. Again, because it doesn't seem that there's a rhyme or reason, look to an authoritative dictionary for the correct example.

General Rule 2: Two or more adjectives before a noun

Generally, hyphenate between two or more adjectives when they come before a noun and act as a single idea. Note the second example in this scenario and the last example in the previous scenario. This time the term is hyphenated because it comes before the noun and acts as a single idea. Example:

  • make-available production

  • web-hosting company

General Rule 3: Two or more adverbs describing a noun

When adverbs not ending in -ly are used as compound words in front of a noun, hyphenate. When the combination of words is used after the noun, do not hyphenate.

General hyphens with prefixes rule

The general rule is to do away with unnecessary hyphens. Therefore, attach most prefixes and suffixes onto root words without a hyphen. Examples:

  • noncompliance

  • copayment

Of course, where would we be without exceptions?

Hyphen prefix special rule 1: Hyphenate before a proper noun

Proper nouns (nouns that are capitalized) and acronyms should always be hyphenated, if they have a prefix. Examples:

  • anti-British

  • de-NIST

Hyphen Prefix Special Rule 2: Double e, o, a, and i

Prefixes and root words that result in double e's and double o's are usually combined to form one word. On the other hand, hyphenate prefixes ending in an a or i only when the root word begins with the same letter.

Hyphen Prefix Special Rule 3: Re and ex.

Hyphenate when adding the prefix ex meaning former. Examples:

  • ex-CIO

  • ex-client

Use the hyphen with the prefix re only when the re means again AND omitting the hyphen would cause confusion with another word. This is almost painful to try to think through on a regular basis.

Hyphen Prefix: Special Rule 4 e-

When using e as a prefix to describe something that exists in electronic form that also exists in non-electronic form, hyphenate the prefix.

Prefixes that shouldn't be hyphenated

Here's a list of prefixes that should not be hyphenated (but usually are):

anti- bi- co- contra- counter- cyber- de- extra- infra- inter- intra- micro- mid- multi- non- over- peri- post- pre- pro- proto- pseudo- re- semi- sub- super- supra- trans- tri- ultra- un- under- whole-

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