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A few days ago I discussed one way to use hyphens. Here are two more uses.

2. Use a hyphen when writing the word equivalent of numbers 21 to 99. Write twenty-seven for 27, sixty-three for 63, eighty-one for 81.

Why?

We write eighty for 80. We write seven for 7. The two words eighty and seven represent 80 and 7. If we write eighty seven, without the hyphen, we are stringing two nouns together without creating a relationship between the two: 80 7. To write the number 87, we need a hyphen to connect the two words together and form one term (sounds familiar?). If we write eighty-seven, we refer to 87–the hyphen between eighty and seven connects the two otherwise disparate numbers together to form one term.

3. Use a hyphen to avoid confusion and prevent misreading.

We put a hyphen in some words to avoid confusion. Example: The word redress differs from re-dress. The first means “a remedy,” while the second means “to dress again.” Same thing for unionize and un-ionized, as well as for recollect and re-collect. 

We put a hyphen in these words to prevent misreading:

  • anti-inflammatory
  • semi-invalid
  • non-net
  • ex-serviceman

There are wonderful explanations at Purdue University’s Online Writing Laboratory and at Capital Community College’s Guide to Grammar and Writing.

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One thought on “Hyphens: Part 2

  1. Pingback: Hyphens: Part 3 | Using a Borrowed Language

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