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3.8: Hyphens

Skills to Develop

  • Identify the uses of hyphens.
  • Properly use hyphens in sentences.

hyphen (-) 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.

Example 1:

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.

Example 2:

My supervisor was concerned that the team meet-

ing would conflict with the client meeting.


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