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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Category: Hyphens

E-mail vs. Email: Hyphen Help Us

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,

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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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