What are some examples of when to use hyphens?


Quick Answer

Hyphens are used in compound adjectives, which are two or more words that make an adjective. Hyphens are also used for some prefixes, numbers and words with multiple letters in a row.

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Full Answer

Hyphens are used often in compound adjectives. A compound adjective is when two or more words are combined to make an adjective, for example, "long-term relationship" or "fire-proof vest." In these instances, the compound adjective comes before the noun and is a compound modifier in need of a hyphen. If the compound adjective comes after the noun, the hyphen is not needed. For example, "the blanket is fire proof."

Some prefixes, such as "re," "ex" and "mid," require a hyphen. Examples include "ex-girlfriend," "mid-fielder" and "re-read." When the word after a prefix requires a capital letter, a hyphen should separate the prefix and the word. An example is "anti-American."

Hyphens are also used for ages and numbers. For example, hyphens are used when writing "the 3-year-old liked the toy." When written out, the numbers 29 through 99 require a hyphen, for example, "twenty-nine."

Hyphens split up words with the same three letters in a row, for example, "fall-like." Hyphens are also used when joining letters and words such as "X-ray machine" or "A-frame ladder."

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