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Hyphens

Hyphens

 
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Author: Ryan Howard
Objective:
  1. Introduce hyphens, why they are used, and common errors with hyphens.

  2. Explain standard rules for hyphenating numbers.

  3. Explain standard rules for hyphenating compound nouns and compound adjectives.

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Tutorial

Introduction to the Hyphen

What is a hyphen?

The hyphen ( - ) is a punctuation mark that is used to separate syllables and to join two different words.

Examples of hyphen usage include: tra - la - la, x - ray, brother - in - law, G - rated

Hyphens play an important role in writing. Let us look at the following paragraph for example:

Lisa had fun riding her uncle's horse through the Montana countryside. It was getting late and the fifteen year old girl knew her uncle and aunt were expect

ing her for supper. Her aunt had a special gift for mak

ing authentic Italian lasagna, and that was Lisa's favorite food.

Was there anything odd about that paragraph? For instance, did it not seem odd to see part of the word "making" start on one line and finish on the next? Should there not be something used to connect the two parts of the word? Suppose a hyphen were to be added in the following areas:

1. Inserting a hyphen to connect "expecting," and "making."

2. Adding a hyphen to "fifteen year old"

Lisa had fun riding her uncle's horse through the Montana countryside. It was getting late and the fifteen - year - old girl knew her uncle and aunt were expect -

ing her for supper. Her aunt had a special gift for mak -

ing authentic Italian lasagna, and that was Lisa's favorite food.

The paragraph looks less confusing to read now that the hyphens have been added.

Errors in Hyphenation

Some examples of hyphenation errors include:

Adding a hyphen to an -ly adverb. E.g. Neatly dressed man.

Adverbs that end in -ly do not need a hyphen, for they usually modify the second word and not the noun. If the phrase were to be well - educated, then a hyphen would be added. The reason for this is because "well" modifies the adjective "educated."

Always make sure to add hyphen between the adjective and a noun that ends in -ed. E.g. hot - tempered

Use a hyphen for an adjective phrase involving a unit of measurement - e.g. eight - year - old, thirty - inch waist

Hyphens generally are not used when phrases such as ten years old follow the noun they modify. With the words "all" and "self," there is an exception (all-knowing, self - confident). Then, there are the words part and full (part - time, full - time).

Fractions are hyphenated when referring to an adjective (e.g. I am one-quarte black), but not when referring to a noun (I own one half of the land).

Hyphens are with a noun followed by a present particible (-ing word) (e.g. meat - eating, toe - tapping)

Exercise: Insert the Hyphen

In the sentences below, put a hyphen where it belongs.

1. Joe has a forty inch waist.

2, James, who is fifty three, is dating a twenty seven year old woman.

3. My grandfather was one half Native American.

4. Harry is a thrill seeking man.

5. I think my golden retriever might be one fourth greyhound.

6. In order to be considered a full time worker at this store, you must work at least twenty eight hours per week.

7. Those men appear to get self pleasure out of looking at that Victoria's Secret magazine.

When to use a Hyphen in a Sentence Video

Conclusion

Things Learned in this Packet:

  • A Hyphen is used to separate syllables and join two different words

  • In most cases, a hyphen is not used in -ly adverbs.

  • Hyphens are always used when a noun is followed by a gerund

  • Hyphens are used when the words come before the noun they are modifying and not after.

  • In the case of numbers, a hyphen is only used between the tens place and the unit (e.g. eighty - two)

  • A hyphen is used to clarify the meaning of two words that come before the modifier (e.g. Heather is a prehistoric - mammal expert)

  • Hyphens are used when referring to measurable units that stand in relation to each other (e.g. dollar - hour)

Source: see above sections for sources

Questions and Answers

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