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Hyphen - Page Text Content

FC: Hyphen | By Rachel Abrams

1: To hyphenate, or not to hyphenate? That is the question. | The hyphen used to be one of the most frequently used punctuation marks. However, due to the age of computing, we find ourselves using the hyphen less and less. This reduced usage makes it very difficult for the average writer to know when and when not to use the hyphen. In this book are several hyphenation rules that are most often broken, as well as examples that show correct and incorrect usage. | -

2: These two posters advertise the same film: Steve Carell's The 40-Year-Old Virgin. The difference? One uses a hyphen incorrectly. Can you guess which one? Here's a hint: The phrase 40-year-old measures the amount of time that Steve Carell spent as a virgin, requiring the use of hyphens. However, if one were to say "The virgin is 40 years old" a hyphen would not be required because the phrase follows the noun that it modifies. | Rule: A hyphen is used when age is a form of measurement.

3: Rule: A hyphen is used with a number-unit measurement. | The circled phrase is incorrect; there should be a hyphen between one and inch because five-foot-one is the number, and inch is the unit. | The hyphen in the phrase 14-carat engagement ring is used correctly because 14 is the number, and carat is the unit of measurement.

4: The error in the above photograph has been circled in red. In the phrase brand new hairdo, brand new should have a hyphen because the nouns brand and new describe the third noun, hairdo. | Below, we see a hyphen used correctly. The nouns pear and cut are linked together with a hyphen to describe the shape of the diamond. | Rule: A hyphen is used to link terms in a compound modifier.

5: In this ad for puppy training pads, we have two correct examples of hyphen usage. The first, leak-proof training, fits the aforementioned rule. The second example, flash-dry technology, fits the next rule: hyphen usage with proper nouns. As you can see, flash-dry is trademarked, making it a proper noun. | This sign is missing a hyphen. The noun bully and adjective free should be linked together with a hyphen so that they can describe the third noun, zone.

6: Rule: Hyphens can be used in first names, double-barreled names, and brand names. | Although it may seem simple, people still manage to mess this rule up, as seen in the above examples. Hyphens can be used in first names, such as Jean-Luc Picard, double-barreled last names such as Misty May-Treanor, or in brand names like Pop-Tarts.

7: A hyphen is necessary here; Wi-Fi is actually the trademark for the Wi-Fi Alliance, a corporation that provides free Internet access. | In this screen shot of the poster for the movie Rock of Ages, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones' name is hyphenated correctly. She has what is considered a "double-barreled name", meaning she has both her mother and father's surnames.

8: Rule: Never use a hyphen with a word ending in -ly | Adding a hyphen after an adverb is unnecessary because the purpose of an adverb is to modify the word that comes after. Adding the hyphen is just redundant.

9: Here we see the correct usage of this rule: A hyphen does not follow fully because fully already describes how the bacon is cooked.

10: Rule: Hyphens follow certain prefixes. | If knowing when and when not to hyphenate wasn't hard enough, along came prefixes to make it even more confusing. Certain prefixes require hyphenation while others do not. For example, postworkout should be post-workout. However, if the hyphen can be removed it is recommended to do so; making both post-workout and post workout correct substitutions. However, if a prefix goes before a proper noun the prefix must have a hyphen (see bottom-left example).

11: The prefix re- is very tricky. It doesn't always require a hyphen, but in this case it does. If re-sign was not hyphenated, the headline would read "Nuggets resign Affalo," meaning that they retired him. Adding the hyphen is not only correct, but it shows that the Nuggets are re-signing Affalo, as in signing Affalo again. | In the advertisement to the left, the word self-respect is hyphenated correctly. All words beginning with the prefix self- should be hyphenated except for selfish and selfless.

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  • By: Rachel A.
  • Joined: about 4 years ago
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  • Title: Hyphen
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  • Published: about 4 years ago

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