hyphenation : Common Errors in English

About hyphenation

The Chicago Manual of Style contains a huge chart listing various sortsof phrases that are or are not to be hyphenated. Consult such areference source for a thorough-going account of this matter, but youmay be able to get by with a few basic rules. An adverb/adjectivecombination in which the adverb ends in “-LY” is never hyphenated: “Hisnecktie reflected his generally grotesque taste.” Other sorts of adverbsare followed by a hyphen when combined with an adjective: “Hislong-suffering wife finally snapped and fed it through the officeshredder.” The point here is that “long” modifies “suffering,” not“wife.” When both words modify the same noun, they are not hyphenated. A “light-green suitcase” is pale in color, but a “light green suitcase”is not heavy. In the latter example “light” and “green” both modify“suitcase,” so no hyphen is used.Adjectives combined with nouns having an “-ED” suffix are hyphenated:“Frank was a hot-headed cop.”Hyphenate ages when they are adjective phrases involving a unit ofmeasurement: “Her ten-year-old car is beginning to give her trouble.” Agirl can be a “ten-year-old” (“child” is implied). But there are nohyphens in such an adjectival phrase as “Her car is ten years old.” Infact, hyphens are generally omitted when such phrases follow the nounthey modify except in phrases involving “all” or “self” such as“all-knowing” or “self-confident.” Fractions are almost alwayshyphenated when they are adjectives: “He is one-quarter Irish andthree-quarters Nigerian.” But when the numerator is already hyphenated,the fraction itself is not, as in “ninety-nine and forty-four onehundredths.” Fractions treated as nouns are not hyphenated: “He ate onequarter of the turkey."A phrase composed of a noun and a present participle (“-ing” word) mustbe hyphenated: “The antenna had been climbed by thrill-seeking teenagerswho didn’t realize the top of it was electrified.”These are the main cases in which people are prone to misuse hyphens. Ifyou can master them, you will have eliminated the vast majority of suchmistakes in your writing. Some styles call for space around dashes (apractice of which I strongly disapprove), but it is never proper tosurround hyphens with spaces, though in the following sort of patternyou may need to follow a hyphen with a space: “Stacy’s pre- andpost-haircut moods.”

hyphenation Meaning(s)

  • (n) division of a word especially at the end of a line on a page
  • (n) connecting syllables and words by hyphens

hyphenation in News

  1. Jay-Z Changes His Name? Get the Scoop!

    UPDATE: A source tells E! JAY Z's name has been this way for the last three years. JAY-Z has 99 problems, but hyphenation ain't one. The hip-hop superstar has...
    on July 19, 2013 Source: E! Online

  2. Jay-Z Reportedly Changes His Name—Get the Scoop on His New Moniker!

    Jay-Z has 99 problems, but hyphenation ain't one. The hip-hop superstar has reportedly dropped the hyphen from his name, changing his moniker from Jay-Z to, well, Jay Z (hey, at...
    on July 19, 2013 Source: E! Online

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