Rules for Hyphen Usage

  • Improve Writing Skills by Learning to Use Hyphens Correctly

    There are rules that govern the use of the hyphen, and by learning these rules, students who pay for homework help can avoid errors that detract from the overall quality of their writing.

    Many writers are uncertain about when to use hyphens. A clue to their usage, however, can be found in the origins and definition of the word “hyphen.” According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, originating from the Greek hyph’ hen, which means “under one, together, in one,” a hyphen is “a mark used between the compound parts of a word.”

    Someone also defines “hyphen” as “a mark used between the different syllables of a word,” as often seen in dictionary entries; but for writing purposes, the first definition is the most applicable. This being the case, writers should think of hyphens as marks that are used to link two or more words and turn them into words. The question, however, is how can writers from online paper writing services know exactly when to link words with a hyphen? They can know by learning the rules governing hyphen usage.

    Use a Hyphen to Form a Single Adjective Before a Noun

    Whenever two or more words are being used together to form an adjective before a noun, the words should be hyphenated (the key word is “before”), for example:

    • A well-known writer is going to speak to Tom’s writing group on Saturday.
    • Tom thinks Sue looks good for a 40-year-old woman.
      However, if the words come after a noun, they are generally not hyphenated, for example:
    • The writer is well known.
    • The woman is 40 years old.

    Use a Hyphen to Form Some Compound Nouns

    Compound nouns are made up two or more words that are all acting together, and whereas not all compound nouns are hyphenated, many are, for example:

    • Sue planted two rows of forget-me-nots in the flowerbed.
    • By hiding in the garage, Tom successfully avoided his mother-in-law when she came to visit.
    • Tom wondered if he should hire an attorney-at-law or act in his own defense.
      Note: When in doubt about whether a compound noun should be hyphenated (jack-in-the-box), separated (private investigator), or combined (eyewitness), consult a dictionary.

    Use a Hyphen to Avoid Ambiguity or Awkward Constructions

    Hyphens can be used to help writers avoid having their messages misinterpreted, for example, note the difference between the following sentences:

    • Tom and Sue were disgusted by the dirty movie-theater.
    • Tom and Sue were disgusted by the dirty-movie theater.
    • Tom re-signed the promissory note, this time in ink.
    • Tom resigned his position in order to write fulltime.

    Use a Hyphen to Form Compound Numbers and Fractions

    Hyphens are used to link the words in the written form of compound numbers and fractions from twenty-one to ninety-nine (or twenty-first to ninety-ninth), for example:

    • Tom bought himself a red convertible for his forty-second birthday.
    • Tom spends almost one-eighth of his and Sue’s income on beer and junk food.
    • Sue and Tom would like to spend their twenty-first anniversary in Hawaii, but they can’t afford it.

    Use a Hyphen with Prefixes and Between Prefixes and Capital Words

    A hyphen is used with the prefixes “ex, self, all,” and between a prefix and a capitalized word, for example:

    • Tom’s friend Frank has four ex-wives.
    • Tom decided it would be profitable to write a self-help book.
    • When he was a boy playing football, Tom dreamed of someday becoming All-American.
    • Tom thought the protestor’s remarks were anti-American.

    Additional Rules of Hyphen Usage in the English Language

    Write My Paper for Me cheap service sharing a few additional rules governing usage of the hyphen that writers must also keep in mind, and these rules include the following:

    1. Use a hyphen with the suffix “elect,” for example, “’’Tom thought the mayor-elect of their town was an idiot.”
    2. Use a hyphen with figures or letters that are working together or with zip codes consisting of more than five numbers, for example: mid-1970s; T-shirt; Lafayette, Louisiana 70506-5006.
    3. Do not use hyphens to connect adverbs ending in “ly” to the nouns they are modifying, for example: Tom was concerned about Sue’s softly-spoken threat to throw a shoe through the TV screen. (It should be “softly spoken threat.”)
    4. Suspend the use of hyphens for adjectives in a series, for example: Tom didn’t know whether to purchase first-, second-, or third-tier seats for the game. (It should be “first, second, or third-tier seats.”)
      In summary, by learning the rules that govern hyphen usage, writers can avoid errors that detract from the overall quality of their writing, whether it’s a college research paper, a business letter, an interoffice memo, a magazine or newspaper article, or a short story. Ultimately, though, writers should be aware of the unwritten rule of hyphen usage: When in doubt, consult a dictionary.

    More Resources:
    Nouns as Parts of Speech
    Writing The First Book Made Easy
    Collective Nouns

    Copyright Otis Anderson. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

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