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Word for Wednesday: Hyphen

For the month of March, we are theming our Word for Wednesday blog posts around types of punctuation. So far we have looked at the words apostrophe, parenthesis, and comma. This week’s word is hyphen.  

hyphen is a short dash which is used to link words together. There are three main situations in which hyphens are used: in compound words, when adding a prefix to another word, and to denote word breaks.

compound word is a word that is made up of two or more other words. Hyphens are often used in compound words either to show that when the included words are together they have a combined meaning, or to show the relationship between the included words. There are different types of compound words and you don’t need to use hyphens in all of them.

A prefix is a collection of letters that is added to the beginning of a word in order to modify its meaning.

The most important thing to remember when using hyphens is clarity. Does the word make sense without a hyphen? Will the addition of a hyphen make your meaning clearer? If yes, use one!

Hyphen entered English in the 1620s via Late Latin. It comes from the Greek word ‘hyphen’ which even back then was used to refer to a mark that showed the joining of two words or syllables to indicate how they should be said or sung. 

You can learn more about different types of punctuation here.

25 Mar 2020
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