Usage of Hyphens


I am studying about usage of hyphens and I was wondering if the rule is consistent or optional and different, depending on people and countries? For example, "open-minded" is used with a hyphen in "She is very open-minded", but we also can find an example without a hyphen. So do you think the usage of hyphens is always the same and consistent?


Thank you so much as always and take good care.


Cf. Air crew / Aircrew / Air- crew, Chat room / Chatroom / Chat-room, etc.

asked Nov 05 '12 at 01:50 Hans Contributor

1 answer


Whether a word is open (air crew), closed (aircrew), or hyphenated has no unversally accepted rule. And what "rules" do exist seem to have many exceptions. Here is the best advice I've heard, and it is advice I personally follow:


(1) Pick one exhaustive, hardcover dictionary. Follow its advice consistently. The dictionary will tell you the preferred spelling for noun and verb forms. Two excellent dictionaries for American English are Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.


(2) Hyphenate word pairs that function as adjectives when they occur before a noun. Leave the word pair open when they occur after the noun (there are, however, many, exceptions).


(3) Do not hyphenate common prefixes or suffixes.


Hyphenation is perhaps the most difficult English grammar/style issue to learn and apply consistently. You will see many mistake in print.


The Chicago Manual of Style (1th edition, 2010, University of Chicago Press) devotes 7 pages to defining the "rules" of hyphenation.

link comment edited Nov 05 '12 at 19:52 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

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