Category: Hyphens

Capitalizing Composition Titles: The Lowdown

Posted on Tuesday, March 3, 2015, at 7:55 pm

Which words should be capitalized in titles of books, plays, films, songs, poems, essays, chapters, and the like? This is a vexing matter, and policies vary. The time-honored advice—capitalize only the “important” words—doesn’t help much. Aren’t all words in a title important? The following rules for capitalizing composition titles are virtually universal. • Capitalize the …

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Thrash the Slash

Posted on Wednesday, October 22, 2014, at 4:16 pm

There have always been words that people use to show they’re cool—words like cool, which gained wide acceptance in the 1940s, unseating swell, keen, and spiffy. And there have always been trendy phrases. In the 1970s, no one who was cool said in conclusion or in the last analysis. It was all about the bottom …

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(All About) Parentheses

Posted on Sunday, March 23, 2014, at 9:25 pm

The singular form is parenthesis, but the plural parentheses is the word you’re more likely to see. Both words have a wide range of related meanings, and what some people identify as a parenthesis, others call parentheses. So let’s keep it simple. For our purposes, a parenthesis is one of a pair of curved marks …

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The Case of the Missing Hyphen, Part 2

Posted on Monday, March 17, 2014, at 8:08 pm

We thank all of you who took the time to respond to the question we posed two weeks ago: Should it be e-mail or email? There were eloquent arguments for both sides, but email won decisively. “Time to join the 21st century,” wrote one gentleman, who added, “and I’m 61 years old.” Many of you …

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Hyphen Help Us: E-mail vs. Email

Posted on Monday, March 3, 2014, at 6:17 pm

Nobody writes “electronic mail,” but how do you write the abbreviation—is it e-mail with a hyphen or its successor, email? It is a small matter that has larger implications: how, why, and when do accepted words and terms change forms? It seems no less than a miracle that all right has survived this long, despite …

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Christmas ’Log Review

Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013, at 7:12 pm

Every year, for six weeks or so, I get a taste of what it’s like to be a superstar. From late October to early December, I am accosted daily by an aggressive mob of stalkers who know where I live. Their urgent need for my attention seems to be their only reason for being. No, …

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Hyphens with Common Prefixes, Part 2

Posted on Tuesday, February 1, 2011, at 10:33 am

The current trend is to do away with unnecessary hyphens with common prefixes. Examples: noncompliance copayment semiconscious unending However, there are exceptions. Exception: Hyphenate all words beginning with the prefix self. Examples: self-assured self-respect self-addressed Exception: Use a hyphen with the prefix ex. Example: His ex-wife sued for nonsupport. Exception: Hyphenate prefixes when they come …

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Hyphenating Between Words

Posted on Tuesday, August 17, 2010, at 1:47 pm

Many of us get confused about when to hyphenate between words. For example, should you write nearly-extinct wolves or nearly extinct wolves? Adverbs ending in -ly should not be hyphenated. In most cases it is compound adjectives–adjectives that act as one idea with other adjectives–that get hyphenated in front of nouns. Example: The crowd threw …

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Hyphens with Numbers

Posted on Tuesday, July 27, 2010, at 10:45 am

Should you write 13-feet or 13 feet? Here is the rule: when you're combining two or more words to form a compound adjective in front of a noun, put hyphens between these words. Examples: Lara handed me a 15-foot pole. An eighteen-inch monitor is too big for my desk. Emergency room nurses work 12-hour shifts. …

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Hyphens with the Prefix re

Posted on Tuesday, March 30, 2010, at 9:06 am

Many of us find hyphens confusing. The prefix re can make hyphenating even more of a head-scratching experience. However, there is really only one rule that you need to learn to determine when to hyphenate with re. Rule: Use the hyphen with the prefix re only when re means again AND omitting the hyphen would …

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Hyphens with Common Prefixes

Posted on Tuesday, March 16, 2010, at 9:09 am

Should we use a hyphen with a common prefix such as non or un? For example, is it non-alcoholic beverages or nonalcoholic beverages? Generally, with common prefixes, you do not need to use a hyphen unless it would avoid possible confusion.  Therefore, most writers would write nonalcoholic beverages. Examples: uninviting uninterested noncompetitive preexisting (some writers …

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Numbers as Adjectives

Posted on Thursday, March 5, 2009, at 4:07 pm

A subscriber recently wrote in with a question that's a good followup to last week's Tip of the Week, Writing Numbers: "When are hyphens used with numbers? Is it 13 feet or 13-feet; 12 hours or 12-hours?" Rule: Generally, hyphenate between two or more adjectives when they come before a noun and act as a …

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