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Hyphens

Sep 1, 2022
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What is a Hyphen? 

  • A hyphen (-) is a punctuation mark.  
  • We use it to join words or parts of words.  
  • We do this to show that the two words are related to each other.  
  • They should be considered as one new word  

When To Use Hyphens? 

Two-Word Adjectives Before Nouns 

  • Made up of two words that work together.  
  • They act as one adjective. So, connect them with a hyphen.  
  • Use a hyphen if they come before the word that they are modifying.  
  • Don’t remove the load-bearing pillar of the house.  
  • They make a rock-hard pizza that no one can eat!  
  • We’re looking for a pet-friendly neighborhood.  
  • This is some heavy-duty truck!  

Noun/Adjective/Adverb + Present/Past Participle à Hyphen  

  • There are some tired-looking children in the park.  
  • Mr. Wayne Musk is funding a community-based healthcare system.  
  • Wind-powered generators are costly to build.  
  • These are meat-fed cats.  
  • He is a well-known celebrity in Los Angeles.  

Hyphenated Compound Words  

  • Mother-in-law  
  • Master-at-arms  
  • Editor-in-chief  
  • Ten-year-old  
  • Factory-made  
  • Twelve-pack 

Hyphens and Numbers  

  • Hyphenate numbers between twenty-one and ninety-nine  when they’re spelled out.  
  • Thirty-five bottles, twenty-nine puppies  
  • It was in nineteen ninety-nine when I went to England  
  • I’ve got a hundred sixty-four of these packets to sell.  

Hyphens and Numbers  

  • Hyphenate numbers between twenty-one and ninety-nine  when they’re spelled out.  
  • Thirty-five bottles, twenty-nine puppies  
  • It was in nineteen ninety-nine when I went to England  
  • I’ve got a hundred sixty-four of these packets to sell.  

Hyphen in Compound Adjective with Numbers  

  • When numbers are used as the first part of a compound adjective, use a hyphen  
  • This applies whether the number is written in words or in digits.  
  • The Principal gave a 20-minute speech to the students.  
  • Maya is proficient in fourteenth-century literature.  
  • An eagle flew in through the third-story window.  
  • Don’t use hyphen if the number is the second word in the compound adjective.  
  • My grandpa has Type 2 diabetes.  
  • The elevator got stuck at Basement 6.  

Hyphen With Prefixes: Ex-, Self-, All-, high. low  

  • Use a hyphen with the prefix ex- (meaning former).  
  • Don’t place Karen next to Jared! He’s her ex-husband!  
  • The ex-Governor attended the gala.  
  • This is a self-serve restaurant.  
  • Is this a full-serve gas station?  
  • The Lord is all-mighty.  
  • Low-flying airplanes are dangerous  
  • The government needs to support the low-income families.  
  • Take a high-interest savings account. It will help you in the future.  

When not to use Hyphens? 

If the noun comes before the two words  

  • If the words function together as an adjective before the noun they’re describing, then use hyphen.  
  • It’s tough to eat this pizza because it is rock hard.  
  • Is this hotel dog friendly?  
  • This medicine is fast acting.  

Adverb + adjective à No hyphen  

  • Sara made up a clearly-impossible story. (incorrect)  
  • Sara made up a clearly impossible story. (correct)  

Adverb + participle à No hyphen  

  • The cabin was like a heavily-decorated dollhouse. (incorrect)  
  • The cabin was like a heavily decorated dollhouse. (correct)  
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