What’s the difference?
- join two or more words together. Examples: door-to-door, editor-in-chief
- attach prefixes to words. Examples: ex-wife, non-executive, co-worker
- are used to avoid ambiguity:
- He wants to re-cover his furniture (to put new covers on it).
- He wants to recover his furniture (to get it back from someone).
The rules of hyphens and numbers:
- Use hyphens in compound numbers from twenty-one to ninety-nine.
- Use hyphens in fractions. Examples: one-fifth, three-quarters.
- Use hyphens when the number is part of an adjectival compound:
- China has a seven-day working week.
- He lost the 800-metre hurdles.
- Chinua Achebe is a great twentieth-century novelist.
Many hyphenated words have become single words. Examples: e-mail and email, web-site and website, tool-bar and toolbar, hyper-link and hyperlink.
Publishers call a dash an “em-dash” because it is the width of the letter m. A dash is used to add a statement—like this—in the same way you would use brackets. The bracket is preferable to the dash in formal writing. Dashes can also be used to create emphasis in a sentence. Example: He looks like an angel—he isn’t.
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If you enjoyed this article, read these posts:
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- Commonly confused abbreviations: etc., i.e., e.g.
- Punctuation and Dialogue
- What is a sentence fragment?
- The 12 Worst Mistakes People Make In Email Subject Lines
- Begin at the end – the one essential email trick every business writer should know