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Better Punctuation: the Hyphen

Updated: Feb 21


closeup of hyphen and underscore key on computer keyboard


Introduction - Better punctuation


In this article, I will explain the use of the punctuation mark, the ‘hyphen’ ( - ).


By applying hyphens correctly, you will improve your English writing.



Rules for its use


There are some rules associated with its use.


Use a hyphen:


  • with some compound nouns. Compound means ‘more than one part’.


These examples, which are all compound nouns, always need a hyphen:

mother-in-law

father-in-law

brother-in-law

sister-in-law

commander-in-chief

show-off


Use a hyphen:


  • When you write the complete words for compound numbers between twenty-one and ninety-nine.


thirty-six

seventy-four

ninety-eight


 Use a hyphen:


  • after some prefixes such as 'ex-', 'mid-', or 'self-'


ex-wife,

ex-husband


mid-December

mid-summer


self-control

self-serve

self-assured


 Use a hyphen  


  • whenever you use a compound adjective before a noun. The compound adjective has to express a single thought/idea.


well-known actor

one-way street

twenty-year-old man

seventy-year-old woman


 Do not use a hyphen 


  •  if the compound adjective appears elsewhere in the sentence.


The actor is well known.

The street is one way only.

She is seventy years old.


Some compound adjectives never take a hyphen, even when used before a noun.

We call these non-hyphenated compound adjectives.


Here are some examples:


High school

senior student

World Wide Web

real estate agent




Conclusion


In this article, I have explained the hyphen.


I hope it has been useful for you to help you get better English punctuation. And to write better English sentences.




Further Reading






© Apex English Tutoring Feb 2021 - updated Jan 2024




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About Me


Hello and welcome!


My name is Michael Finemore and I am the owner-operator of Apex English Tutoring.


As an experienced English Teacher, I'm passionate about helping people turn their 'poor' English into great English, with easy and effective ways to practice.






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