myQBook English Grammar Concepts

Hyphens (-)

Hyphens are the grammatical ropes; they link things together. A hyphen is a short, horizontal line that links words together (these are different from dashes). The main uses for hyphens are as follows:

1.       To form compound adjectives.

Compound adjectives are multiple words working together to function as one adjective. Hyphens join these words together to create a compound adjective.

For example:

The 9-year-old boy already knew most of the concepts taught in high school.

Here, “9-year-old” is a pair of words and a number that work together to describe the boy. Therefore, it is a compound adjective, and hyphens should be used. Refer to the next grade concept explanations for a full explanation of compound adjectives.

2.       To form certain compound words.

Consider the following example:

The new editor-in-chief of the famous magazine is extremely pleased with his new job.

In this example, “editor-in-chief” is a compound word and thus requires hyphens.


3.       In fractions and numbers from 21 to 99.

For example:

Twenty-five people were in Mrs. Baker’s class, but one-fifth of them switched to another class during the year.

In this example, the first hyphen is used for a number between 21 and 99, “twenty-five.” The second hyphen separates the numerator and denominator of the fraction “one-fifth.”


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