What Are Hyphens? (with Examples)
HyphensA hyphen (-) is a punctuation mark used to join the separate parts of a compound word. A hyphen is a joiner.
A hyphen is used:
- To join the words of a compound adjective (e.g., "five-page" document)
- To join the words of compound noun (e.g., "cooking-oil")
- To join a prefix to a word (e.g., "re-examine").
Read more about using hyphens.
How Hyphens Are UsedHere is a quick overview on how hyphens are used:
(1) In compound adjectives to show they are single entities.
In the examples below, the compound adjectives are shaded.
- free-range eggs
- two-day break
- four-seater aircraft
Read more about hyphens in compound adjectives
Read more about alternatives to hyphens in compound adjectives
(2) In compound nouns to show they are single entities.
In the examples below, the compound nouns are shaded.
- Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing-gas, has a slightly sweet odour and taste.
- I have lost my water-bottle.
- He was seen by a passer-by.
- Did he marry his sister-in-law?
Read more about hyphens in compound nouns
Read more about forming the plurals of compound nouns
(3) With prefixes.
In the examples below, the prefixes are shaded.
- cooperate and co-operate
- antifascist and anti-fascist
Read more about hyphens in prefixes.
Read more about prefixes.
Other Punctuation MarksHere is a slider with lessons to the other punctuation marks:
Why Should I Care about Hyphens?Using hyphens to link multi-word but single entities (such as compound adjectives and compound nouns) makes your text easier to read, and it showcases your writing skills.
Read our main page about using hyphens.