Hyphenations have become one of the long-forgotten instruments of English language. Let’s face it- do any of us really know when to use a hyphenation and when not to? With more and more people using a hyphen between words as and when they feel like it, we thought we could share with you the do’s and don’ts of hyphenation usage. We also have a guide to the proper usage of semicolon, which is also a commonly misused punctuation.
When to use a hyphenation mark:
• While creating compound words, for example: Shrink-wrap, passers-by
• With age indicators when they are being used as nouns, for example: The seven-year-old kicked me
• When adjectives and nouns are put together with the “-ed” suffix, for example: Nothing is friendlier than a wet-furred and cold-nosed dog
• When fractions are used as adjectives, for example: My dog is one-quarter wolf and three-quarters pug
• With prefixes like “-ex”, “-self”, “-all”
To avoid confusion, a hyphen and prefix combination can be used, for example: “a chicken cannot re-lay an egg” as compared to “please relay this message to him”
When not to use a hyphenation mark:
• When it is between adverbs and adjectives. If the first word ends in “-ly” don’t use a hyphen. For example: the project was beautifully crafted.
• With adjectival phrases, including when nouns are followed by their modifiers, including age. For example: Rupert’s son is ten years old.
• When fractions behave as nouns, for example: he ate his one third of the food quickly and left
• When there are combinations of verbs and prepositions, for example: We can look out from a mountain lookout point.
• When you’re dealing in fractions with a hyphenated numerator, for example: The athlete did a running nose dive mere twenty four and forty six one hundredths from the finish line.
These hyphenation tips will take you one step closer towards understanding the language and using it in a better manner.