Hyphenate In A Sentence

Updated Jan 14, 2023

Hyphenate in a Sentence: A Guide to Proper Hyphen Usage


Hyphenation is a fundamental aspect of punctuation that can greatly impact the clarity and readability of a sentence. Knowing when and how to use hyphens correctly is essential for effective communication. In this article, we will delve into the rules and best practices of hyphenation, ensuring that you can confidently hyphenate in a sentence.

What is a Hyphen?

A hyphen is a short horizontal line (-) used to connect words or parts of words within a sentence. It acts as a glue, joining terms to create compound words, clarify meanings, or aid in the flow of a sentence. However, it is important to note that hyphens are different from dashes and should not be confused with them.

When to Use a Hyphen

1. Compound Words

One of the primary uses of hyphens is to form compound words. compound words consist of two or more words combined to create a single concept or meaning. Let's take a look at some examples:

  • Well-known: In this compound adjective, the hyphen connects "well" and "known" to indicate that these two words work together to describe something.
  • Mother-in-law: Here, the hyphens link "mother" and "in-law" to form a compound noun, referring to one's spouse's mother.

2. Prefixes and Suffixes

Hyphens are often used when combining prefixes and suffixes with words. This helps to avoid confusion or misinterpretation. Consider the following examples:

  • Re-enter: The hyphen connects the prefix "re-" with the word "enter," clarifying that it means "to enter again."
  • Child-friendly: By hyphenating "child" and "friendly," we create a compound adjective that describes something suitable for children.

3. Numbers and Fractions

Hyphens are also utilized when writing numbers or fractions as words. Here are a couple of scenarios:

  • Twenty-five: The hyphen between "twenty" and "five" is necessary to indicate a single number as opposed to two separate ones.
  • Two-thirds: In this case, the hyphen connects the numerator "two" with the denominator "thirds" to form a fraction.

When Not to Use a Hyphen

While hyphens are versatile, it is equally important to know when not to use them. Here are some instances where hyphens should be avoided:

1. Unnecessary Hyphenation

Avoid using hyphens when the words you are connecting are already recognized as a single unit or have become commonly used compound words. For example:

  • Airplane: It is unnecessary to hyphenate this word, as "air" and "plane" have merged into a widely accepted compound word.

2. Proper Nouns

Hyphens are generally not used with proper nouns, such as names of specific people, places, or brands. For instance:

  • New York: The city name "New York" does not require a hyphen, as it is a proper noun.


Mastering the art of hyphenation can significantly enhance your writing skills and ensure effective communication. By understanding the appropriate times to use hyphens, such as in compound words, prefixes, suffixes, numbers, and fractions, you can elevate the clarity and readability of your sentences. Remember to avoid unnecessary hyphenation and omit hyphens when dealing with proper nouns. With this guide, you are now equipped to confidently hyphenate in a sentence and convey your message with precision.

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