Hyphens (page 2)

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Updated on Jan 22, 2014


Hyphens are sometimes used to join prefixes to words. The best way to be certain whether or not you need a hyphen is to look it up in a recent dictionary, but here are some rules:

Use a hyphen when creating compound words with the prefixes self-, all- and ex-, and usually with cross-.

  • Self-made billionaire
  • All-inclusive resort
  • Ex-husband
  • Cross-purposes
  • Cross-examine
  • Exception: Crossword puzzle

Use a hyphen when you are attaching a prefix to a capitalized word.

  • pro-American
  • anti-American

Use a hyphen after a prefix when needed to clarify the meaning of the word.

  • Re-sign (to sign again) vs. resign (to quit)
  • Re-creation (making again) vs. recreation (having fun)
  • I re-sent your email (sent again) vs. I resent your email (felt annoyed by)

Wrapping Text

We use hyphens to break up words at the end of a line if a long word won’t fit. If you need to figure out where you can break a word, look it up in a dictionary — most provide syllable breaks.

David Travis is the founder and CEO of Prospect Prep, a New York City-based tutoring agency dedicated to helping students earn better grades, higher scores, and acceptance letters from the colleges of their dreams.

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