This is “Hyphens”, section 3.8 from the book Successful Writing (v. 1.0). For details on it (including licensing), click here.

For more information on the source of this book, or why it is available for free, please see the project's home page. You can browse or download additional books there. You may also download a PDF copy of this book (47 MB) or just this chapter (122 KB), suitable for printing or most e-readers, or a .zip file containing this book's HTML files (for use in a web browser offline).

Has this book helped you? Consider passing it on:
Creative Commons supports free culture from music to education. Their licenses helped make this book available to you.
DonorsChoose.org helps people like you help teachers fund their classroom projects, from art supplies to books to calculators.

3.8 Hyphens

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify the uses of hyphens.
  2. Properly use hyphens in sentences.

A hyphen (-)A punctuation mark that combines words that work together to form a single description, or it breaks a word across two lines of text. looks similar to a dash but is shorter and used in different ways.

Hyphens between Two Adjectives That Work as One

Use a hyphen to combine words that work together to form a single description.

The fifty-five-year-old athlete was just as qualified for the marathon as his younger opponents.

My doctor recommended against taking the medication, since it can be habit-forming.

My study group focused on preparing for the midyear review.

Hyphens When a Word Breaks at the End of a Line

Use a hyphen to divide a word across two lines of text. You may notice that most word-processing programs will do this for you. If you have to manually insert a hyphen, place the hyphen between two syllables. If you are unsure of where to place the hyphen, consult a dictionary or move the entire word to the next line.

My supervisor was concerned that the team meet-

ing would conflict with the client meeting.

Key Takeaways

  • Hyphens join words that work as one adjective.
  • Hyphens break words across two lines of text.