Hyphens

Report
. ? ! , ; : ’ () [] … - “”
Punctuation Review:
Hyphens
Angela Gulick
CAS Writing Specialist
January 2012
Introduction
. ? ! , ; : ’ () [] … - “”

This workshop provides a general overview that readers can go
through at their own pace. The workshop does not cover every
detail but focuses on the general rules associated with grammar,
punctuation, and mechanics issues.

A list of all Writing Lab handouts, PowerPoint workshops, and
videos is available on the Center for Academic Success
Resources page.

A list of online exercises and additional sources is available at the
end of this presentation.
Copyright Angela Gulick, January 2012
Hyphens
-----------------------
Hyphens (-) are used in several different ways:
Use 1: Use a hyphen to connect or “stitch” words together that you want
to be read as a unit. These words will form a single concept that
describes the following word. However, if this description comes after
the word it describes, do not use a hyphen.
My eleven-year-old nephew got a new IPAD, and I am jealous!
>>>In this case, I’m not saying my eleven nephew, my year
nephew or my old nephew. I am saying my eleven-yearold (one concept) nephew.
I
need.
My nephew who is eleven years old got a new
IPAD, and I am jealous.
>>>In this case, since the words describing the
noun (nephew) come after the noun, no hyphen is
Copyright Angela Gulick, January 2012
Hyphens
-----------------------
Here is another example:
My new 16-gallon fish tank exploded all over the
floor last night.
>>>In this case, I am not saying a 16 tank
or a gallon tank. I am saying a 16-gallon (one
concept) tank.
My new fish tank that is 16 gallons exploded all
over the floor last night.
>>>In this case, since the words describing
the noun (fish tank) come after the noun,
no hyphen is needed.
Copyright Angela Gulick, January 2012
Hyphens
A quick caution about hyphens:
Hyphens are used with adjectives and nouns, but they are not used with
adverbs (words that describe or further define verbs). Even though the
hyphen rule seems like it should apply here, it doesn’t because what is being
described is the verb (the action), not the noun (the thing).
The quickly moving train flew
past the station, and only Denzel
Washington could save the day!
>> You don’t need a hyphen here
between quickly and moving
because quickly is describing the
verb moving, not the noun train.
My student’s hastily written research paper made me want to cry. >> You
don’t need a hyphen here between hastily and written because hastily is
describing the verb written, not the noun paper.
Copyright Angela Gulick, January 2012
Hyphens
-----------------------
Use 2. Use a hyphen to indicate a group of words that are always joined. Here are some
examples: merry-go-round, editor-in-chief, mother-in-law. The best step here is to
look up the words in the dictionary to see if they are separate words, words that
are hyphenated, or one word. Some words come in a variety of forms. For example,
consider these four sentences:
I try to work out every other day, at least.
>>> In this sentence, “work out” is used as a verb (an action).
I had a really good workout this morning
>>> In this sentence, “workout” is used as a noun (a thing).
These are my favorite workout clothes and routines.
>>> In this sentence, “workout” is used as an adjective (a word which further
describes the words “clothes and routines.”)
I hope that my husband and I can work out our problems.
>>> In this sentence, “work out” is used as a verb (an action).
Copyright Angela Gulick, January 2012
Hyphens
-----------------------
Use 3. Use a hyphen to write out numbers and fractions.
Use hyphens for all numbers from twenty-one through ninety-nine.
>>> I can’t believe I spent seventy-five dollars on a new collar for my dog.
Use hyphens for all spelled-out fractions.
>>> One-third of all students who revise their assignments earn one letter grade
higher for the entire class.
>>> I asked my hair dresser to cut off one-half inch, but she measured incorrectly
and cut off three-and-one-half inches.
Copyright Angela Gulick, January 2012
Do You Still Have Questions?
If you still have questions, please stop by the Writing Lab (D120) or check out
our list of writing workshops on the CAS Resources page.
Here are additional websites that can help you with grammar, punctuation,
and mechanics issues. The first two links with ’s also have online exercises
with answer keys to help you practice.
 Grammar Bytes
Note: This site might require you to
download a small program onto your
computer the first time you use it.
 Guide to Grammar and Writing
Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)
Grammar Girl
The Blue Book of Grammar
Copyright Angela Gulick, January 2012

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