Practical tip: hyphens


hyphen PPT

**use is continually evolving – check!

Language in transition

  • from 2 words --- to a hyphenated word --- to 1 word
  • sea floor --- sea-floor --- seafloor
  • deep sea --- deep-sea --- deepsea


Using hypens:

  1. Language in transition.
  2. When 2 or more words form a single adjective or noun.
  3. When there are several modifiers - to make the meaning less ambiguous.
  4. Modifiers with numbers and units.
  5. Sometimes with prefixes (list of exceptions).
  6. When there is a potential for visual confusions because of repeated letters.
  7. Sometimes verbs need hyphens to indicate correct meaning.
  8. E-terms: where “e” stands for “electronic”.

(see ppt for examples)

or NOT using hyphens:

  1. When a compound modifier contains an adverb that ends in –ly, the two words are never hyphenated.
  2. Some well-established terms drop the hyphen.
  3. For Latin phrases used adjectivally.
  4. For letters used as modifiers in scientific term.
  5. Compound modifiers involving a comparative or superlative adjective.

(see ppt for examples)



Boyle T, Sullivan KD. The Gremlins of Grammar. McGraw-Hill ©2006 pp 20, 46-47, 51

Strunk W, White EB. The Elements of Style. 4th Ed. Allyn & Bacon, USA © 2000 pp34-35

Feigenbaum I. The Grammar Handbook. Oxford University Press © 1985.