Hyphen – Definition and Uses with Examples

Hyphen – Definition and Uses with Examples

Do you know that the proper use of punctuation marks engenders clarity in our writings? I present to you in this post titled Hyphen – Definition and Uses with Examples useful items of information on the Hyphen. Many make use of the hyphen but are limited in the understanding and usage of all there is to this punctuation mark.

Hyphen – Definition, Functions, Uses with Examples

We will take a look at hyphen and consider its various uses to help improve our writing process and enable us use this mark appropriately. Let us begin by describing the hyphen.

What is the Hyphen?

The hyphen is a mark that looks like a dash which shows word break. It is a punctuation mark (-) that we use at the end of a line when we have to divide a word or to we need to link the parts of a compound word or phrase. We should not confuse a hyphen with a dash. I have put a post together on a dash and its types which you can check out.

What are the Uses of the Hyphen?

There are different uses to which we can put the hyphen and some of what we use the hyphen to do include the following:

To Join Two or More Words to Form a Compound Word

Hyphens join many compound nouns and all compound adjectives.  There are many hyphenated nouns examples. Consider these over 20 Examples of Hyphenated Compound Nouns:

Hyphenated Compound Nouns Examples

  • Blue-plate
  • Blue-pencil
  • City-state
  • Serious-minded  
  • Boat-rocker  
  • Blue-chipper
  • Blue-chip
  • White-collar
  • Blue-collar
  • Pink-collar
  • Blue-black
  • Fair-haired
  • Stainless-steel
  • Part-time,
  • Back-to-back
  • Well-known
  • Part-time
  • Part-score
  • partridge-wood
  • part-writing
  • big-city  
  • big-eye  
  • mother-in-law

To Join the Elements of Two-digit Numbers and Fractions

We use Hyphens to join two-digit numbers and fractions when we spell them out as we have in:

  • Twenty-three
  • One-fifth
  • Two-third
  • Forty-one
  • Fifty-seven
  • One-tenth
  • Ninety-nine
  • Thirty-three
  • One-third
  • Seventy-five

Used in Word Division

In word division (hyphenation) a partial word at the end of a line is followed by a hyphen and completed on the next line. In other words, when you write and the word at the end of the line runs on to the next line, you use the hyphen to connect the partial word to its completion on the next line. Check these examples:

We will have to accept his resig-

nation in good faith.

He had left the assembly on Mon-

day before the incident happened.

Do note that when you have to divide a word at the end of a line, you should divide it at the syllable boundary so as not to distort the meaning of the word as you have in these examples:

  • To/day, not toda/y
  • Yester/day, not yesterd/ay
  • Class/room, not classr/oom
  • Antici/pate, not antic/ipate
  • Correc/tion, not corre/ction 

To Separate Certain Prefixes from the Main Word

We also use the hyphen to separate some prefixes from the words they prefix. Examples include:

  • Semi-final
  • Semi-formal
  • Ex-officio
  • Ex-president
  • Post-natal
  • Ante-meridiem
  • Post-meridiem
  • Ante-natal
  • Re-engineer
  • Pre-eminent
  • Non-conformist
  • Anti-pollution
  • Un-American

To Change the Meaning of Some Words

When you add a hyphen to some word, their meaning changes. For example:

  • re-form means “start again” but reform means “change”. A re-formed group is different from a reformed group.
  • represent and re-present

To JOIN Two Proper Nouns

When we use a proper noun (name) with another proper noun, we use a hyphen. For example:

  • I have a copy of the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
  • Western poets favour the use of Greco-Roman lore
  • It is purely a North-South Korean affair.
  • A Ronaldo-Pogba combination will rattle any defence.
  • We have to publish in the Thompson-Reuters journal.
  • The Treaty of Madrid signed in 1750 was a Spain-Portugal affair.

In Spelling out a Word and Denoting Stammering

When spelling out a word, we use a hyphen to denote the process. In addition, when we want to depict in writing what is said by a stammerer, we use the hyphen. For example:

  • X-a-n-t-h-o-s-i-s
  • m-o-d-u-s o-p-e-r-a-n-d-i
  • h-i-p-p-o-p-o-t-a-m-u-s
  • Please g-g-give me s-s-s-some w-w-w-water.
  • C-c-c-can you p-p-p-please c-c-c-come?

To Denote Family Names of Both Parents or Father and Spouse’s Names

Some people like the trend of taking a name from the family names of both parents or from the last name of their father and spouse. Such names are hyphenated. Examples include:

  • Lola Abiola-Edewor
  • Emil Jannings-Theodor
  • Dan Aykroyd-Candy
  • Margaret Roberts-Thatcher
  • Charles Wendell-Colson

When two Words Used Together Would be Hard to Understood

The use of hyphen in this instance is to allow for clarity. For instance, if I wish to describe a liquid substance that look like fuel; instead of saying “fuellike”, I will rather say “fuel-like” for the purpose of clarity. More examples include:

  • Harvest-like
  • Shell-like
  • Rock-like
  • Lady-like
  • Camera-like
  • Shoe-like
  • Smoke-like
  • Tool-like

Final Word

I am pretty sure you have learned a whole lot of useful information from this post, Hyphen – Definition, Functions, Uses with Examples. There are other punctuation marks you need to learn about; do not deny yourself the opportunity of checking them out and sharing the useful items of information with others. Remember to connect us on our Social Media platforms. See you around.

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