Hyphen Punctuation Marks – Definition, Uses, And Examples

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Hyphen punctuation marks are one of the most important symbols that are used in English grammar to join words or their parts within a sentence. But, people sometimes get confused between the hyphens and the dashes, but they are both different terms. They also have slight differences in their symbols, as the dash has a larger horizontal line than the hyphen. In this blog, we will discuss hyphens in detail understanding through their examples and uses in English Grammar.

What is Hyphen Punctuation Mark?

A hyphen is a type of punctuation mark that is used for combining two words to form compound words. The combination of two words that are used to work together to function like a single adjective. It has a horizontal line symbol ( – ), which is placed to join the two relative words. 

Additionally, hyphens display clarity in the written text where the prefix is added, family relations, or the collision of letters. 

For Example: 

  • bell-like, co-operate, post-colonial, son-in-law, anti-nuclear
  • knock-down and up-to-date

Hyphen sometimes completely changes the meaning of the sentence. Let’s understand it with an example.

I am planning to re-cover my armchairPutting a new cover
I would like to recover my armchairRecover from the person who has borrowed it.

Uses of Hyphen 

The hyphen has high importance in English grammar. It is used in several sentences to show that they have a close relation between them. Here, we will learn the different uses of Hyphen.

Hyphens and Compound Words

The compound words contain multiple words that include hyphens between them. Several hyphenated compounds turned into closed compounds with time, which got updated in the dictionaries. Some examples of the most common types of hyphenated compound words are:

For ExampleHe is working on six-pack abs.
Tim is a 12-year-old boy.
His father-in-law has a friendly relationship with him.
They cut a half-pipe for the water path.

Open Compound Words 

Open compounds are usually combinations of two nouns that are used together to show a single idea. Open gives the idea that there is no hyphen, but there is some space that exists between the two words. If an open compound is not in the dictionary, it is confirmed that it will be open. You can search the dictionary and find out the open compound words in it. 

For Example:The food is on the dinner table.
The real estate broker is selling a new property.
The children are playing in the living room.

Closed Compound Words

Hyphenated compound words continue to become closed compounds with time. Compound words are single words that contain no hyphens or spaces. The most common example of this is e-mail, which is used as email. To check whether the word is a closed compound or an open compound, you can use the dictionary.

For Example:The Chairperson of the committee is the chief guest of the tournament
The Bulls were in the lead before halftime.
Tom forgot to bring his notebook.

Hyphens in Numbers

Some numbers should include a hyphen in them, mainly the numbers starting from twenty-one and going up to ninety-nine.

For Example:He made his forty-first century against the Renegades.
Your uncle arrived twenty-four hours ago.
He earned ninety-two dollars yesterday.

Simple fractions of two words must include a hyphen. However, there is no need for hyphens in one-word fractions such as quarter or half, as the compound part is not joined by a hyphen in other words in its noun form.

For Example:They were sitting here for about half an hour.
One-third of the students score above 70% in science.

Hyphens in Compound Modifiers with Numbers

The compound numbers include a hyphen in a sentence if a number comes as the compound modifier’s first part appearing before a noun. The rule applies whether the number is ordinal or cardinal, whether it is in numerals or spelt out.

 For Example:

  • The CEO of the company gave a twenty-minute speech to the employees.
  • The minister unfurled a 107-foot-tall flag.
  • He has vast knowledge of thirteenth-century history.
  • The window of the second-story building is broken.

There is no need for a hyphen if the second number of the word is a compound adjective.For Example:

  • The man is suffering from type 2 diabetes.
  • He pressed the basement 2 button in the elevator.

If the word per cent comes after the number, the hyphens are not used.

For Example:

  • The YouTube channel got a 60 per cent hike in its subscribers after the video went viral.

Exercise on Hyphen Punctuation Marks

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Q1. Why hyphens are used?

Hyphens are mainly used to join two words or their parts together avoiding confusion. These are related words that have a close relationship with each other.

Q2. How hyphen is different from a dash?

Dashes have a longer punctuation mark(—) that is used to initiate a phrase or word after a parenthetical mark or independent clause. Hyphens are relatively shorter punctuation marks ( – ) that are used between words and prefixes to form compound words.

Q3. What are hyphenated words?

Hyphenated words are a type of word that includes at least one hyphen symbol in it. The hyphens connect two words that are related.

Q4. What are compound adjectives?

A compound adjective is a kind of adjective that explains the noun where two or more words or phrases are joined together to form a single term.

This was all about the “Hyphen Punctuation Marks.” Hope you understand the concept and know how to proceed. You can also follow the page of Learn English of Leverage Edu for more exciting and informative blogs. 

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