Hyphens have plenty of functions, but their main function is to attach words (or components of words). They many commonly show up with link adjectives, phrasal verb being used as nouns, and after some prefixes.

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Compound adjectives

Compound adjectives (or compound modifiers) consist of of 2 words that job-related together to change a noun. As soon as this compound adjective comes prior to a noun, it needs a hyphen.

Example: compound adjective comes before a noun

The VP for development, who is currently a well-respected economist, monitor the London-based company’s fast-paced expansion.


However, as soon as a link adjective come after a noun, it usually does not require a hyphen.

Example: compound adjective comes after a noun

Also keep in mind that compound adjectives that contain one adverb the ends in “ly” room not hyphenated. (Adverbs modify adjectives, verbs, and also other adverbs and often prize the inquiry “How?”)

Example: compound adjectives that contain an adverb that ends in “ly”

Phrasal verbs used as nouns

Phrasal verb don’t typically require hyphens. However, when they are supplied as nouns, castle either take a hyphen or are linked into a single word. If you’re not sure whether a hyphen is necessary, consult a dictionary.

Phrasal verbUsed together noun
She heard someone trying come break in.There to be a break-in last night.
The supervisor called him come go ahead through the experiment.We acquired the go-ahead on the project.
The task will start up tomorrow.The startup has actually nine employees.
The government bailed out the bank.The bailout was an extremely controversial.

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After prefixes

Few addressed rules exist about whether hyphens must be supplied to attach prefixes (such as un, pre, and also multi). Practices additionally vary end time; as a term becomes more common, the hyphen generally disappears (such together e-mail, which has slowly turned right into email). If in doubt, use a dictionary.

Also be afflicted with in mind the prefixes are more frequently hyphen in british English (e.g. sub-section) than in American English (e.g. subsection).

One firm tip is to constantly hyphenate prefixes that come prior to a funding letter, numeral, or date.

The anti-UN faction was an extremely vocal during the mid-March 1970 discussions.An un-Christian mindset was uncommon.
The sculpture is pre-16th century.Inter-African teamwork is growing.
The events all occurred post-Gulf War.Presidents are often in your mid-50s.

Pay careful attention to meaning!

Sometimes the lack of a hyphen makes it unsure what you room trying to say.

Possible interpretationClearer option
Five year old girlsGirls who are five years old.Five girls who space one year old.Fiveyear-old girlsFive year-old girls

In addition, periodically a phrase way something totally different once a hyphen is added.

Meaning
Long standing traditionA tradition of standing because that a long time.Ex: The Quaker religion has actually a long standingtradition in its worship services.
Long-standing traditionA heritage that has existed a lengthy time.Ex: Lighting candle is a long-standing tradition.
Meaning
Recovered bookA book that one has acquired back.Ex: The library recovered the book from that is patron.

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Re-covered bookA publication that has a brand-new cover on it.Ex: The librarian re-covered the damaged book.

Further tips

Hyphens are tricky, even for competent writers. In addition to the above, save the following tips in mind:

Be constant in just how you hyphenate connected items. Because that instance, if you describe sub-chapters, friend should additionally refer to sub-sections and sub-questions. (The alternative: subchapters, subsections, and subquestions.)Follow standard consumption rules as much as girlfriend can, paying details attention to what most often appears in your secondary literature. And don’t be fear to look things up if you space unsure!