To hyphenate or not to hyphenate?

That’s a question I seem to struggle with…
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The good news is that a linguistics professor  found that 4 simple rules cover 75% of cases that writers encounter.

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Here are Prof. Christina Sanchez-Stockhammer’s four rules…

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1) If the word is a verb or an adjective

If the word you’re writing is a verb (like to blow-dry), or an adjective (like world-famous), then it will almost always need a hyphen.

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2)- If the word is a noun with two syllables

If you’re writing a noun with two syllables (like break-up, and set-up) the rule is simple – use a hyphen only when the second word has two letters.

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3) If the second part of the word has more than two letters

When spelling a compound where the second part of the word has more than two letters, it should be spelled as a single word.

In these instances (like coastline or bedroom) never use a hyphen.

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4) Nouns with three or more syllables

If the noun has three or more syllables, it is always written out as two separate words.

Examples include bathing suit and washing machine.

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It’s as easy as that …

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One Response to “To hyphenate or not to hyphenate?”

  1. Charlie J Maguire Says:

    Rule 4 is flawed: “Automobile “, “transmission”, “photography”, “watermelon “ to name a quick few.
    And you missed Rule 5: “ If you are a married female college professor, always use a hyphen”. Thanks

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