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Feb 16, 2019 06:59:41

how to use hyphen - in writing

by @davidnge | 222 words | 🐣 | 104💌

David nge

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Hyphen "-" can be confusing if you're unsure when do you need to use them.

Consider these phrases:

The boy is seven-years-old

The ideas are out-of-date

He's just a seven-years-old boy

Some out-of-date and messed-up ideas

My life-changing experience

Write a three-word sentence

Which of the sentences above are correct?

One tip to know when to use hyphen is to look for compound adjective. Adjectives are words that modify/describe the noun or subject. 

So beautiful hat, furry dog, expensive gadgets are examples of adjectives.

Compound adjectives is a phrase, made up of two or more words that modifies a noun. And Compound adjectives before a noun get hyphenated.

So from the list above, the following are correct:

He's just a seven-years-old boy

Some out-of-date and messed-up ideas

My life-changing experience

Write a three-word sentence

Following that, when compound adjectives stand own its own — when they don't precede a noun — they don't get hyphenated.

The ideas are out of date.

The boy is seven years old.

There are other words where it may not be immediately clear if there should be hyphen between them.

Like:

Work place

Long time (adjective)

Life time

Fire works

Weather man

Mean time

Some times

Touch down 

The best thing you can do if you're not sure is to just look up the dictionary!


  • 1

    @davidnge Wonderful post on when to use hyphens. However, in today's e-mail writing people forget to apply punctuation.

    Arvind Sri avatar Arvind Sri | Feb 16, 2019 15:45:14
    • 1

      @arvindsri thanks! It'll definitely help—to make you look more professional—when you're dealing with clients :D

      David nge avatar David nge | Feb 17, 2019 02:04:20
  • 1

    @davidnge Man, how do you know this with such details??? :O Are you an english teacher or something related?

    I needed this post, thanks!

    Basile Samel avatar Basile Samel | Feb 16, 2019 14:29:02
    • 1

      @basilesamel definitely not. I'm just writing what I learned about writing from articles, books, and courses :)

      David nge avatar David nge | Feb 17, 2019 02:02:40
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