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Thread: Hyphen

  1. Omni


    Hi All

    Many thanks for posting anything on hyphen usage!!!

  2. engee30's Avatar
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    Smile Re: Hyphen


    In print a hyphen (-) is half the length of a dash (–),
    but in writing there is often little noticeable difference.
    While the dash has the purpose of separating
    words and groups of words, the hyphen is
    meant to link words and parts of words. The use of
    hyphens is very variable in English, but the following
    guidelines reflect generally agreed principles.

    The hyphen is used to join two or more words so
    as to form a single word (often called a compound
    word), e.g. free-for-all, multi-ethnic, right-handed,
    and punch-drunk. Straightforward noun compounds
    are now much more often spelled either as
    two words (boiling point, credit card, focus group)
    or as one, even when this involves a collision of
    consonants, which used to be a reason for putting
    in the hyphen (database, earring, breaststroke). In
    American English compound nouns generally
    written as two words in British English are often
    written as one word.

    There are two cases in which a compound
    spelled as two words is made into a hyphened
    or a one-word form:

    1. when a verb phrase such as hold up or back up is
    made into a noun (hold-up, backup);
    2. when a noun compound is made into a verb
    (e.g. a date stamp but to date-stamp). Note that
    a normal phrasal verb should not be hyphenated:
    write continue to build up your pension not
    continue to build-up your pension.

    A hyphen is often used:

    1. to join a prefix ending in a vowel (such as co- and
    neo-) to another word (e.g. co-opt, neo-
    ), although one-word forms are
    becoming more usual (cooperate, neoclassical).
    2. to avoid ambiguity by separating a prefix from
    the main word, e.g. to distinguish re-cover (=
    provide with a new cover) from recover and re-sign
    (= sign again) from resign.
    3. to join a prefix to a name or designation, e.g.
    anti-Christian, ex-husband.
    4. to stand for a common second element in all but
    the last word of a list, e.g. two-, three-, or four-fold.
    5. to clarify meanings in groups of words which
    might otherwise be unclear or ambiguous (e.g.
    twenty-odd people came to the meeting).

    You should also use a hyphen to clarify the meaning
    of a compound that is normally spelled as separate
    words, when it is used before a noun: an up-to-
    date record
    but the record is up to date.

    There is no need to insert a hyphen between an
    adverb ending in -ly and an adjective qualified by
    it, even when they come before the noun: a highly
    competitive market
    , recently published material.
    When the adverb does not end in -ly, however, a
    hyphen is normally required to make the meaning
    clear when the adverb precedes the noun: a well-known
    (but the woman is well known).

    taken from Oxford's Guide to Good English

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