When to use a hyphen in compound nouns?
Today we will be looking at compound nouns. Some of you wanted to know why sometimes certain types of nouns are separated by a hyphen. First, let me just briefly repeat what the hyphen is.
A hyphen shows that two words belong together.
Unfortunately, the rules about when to use a hyphen are not very exact, but hyphens are generally more used in British English than in American English.
So, a hyphen can be used in some compound nouns. But most combinations are written either as one word or as two separate words.
Keep reading and learn MORE TIPS TO IMPROVE your English Grammar.
We generally use a hyphen in a letter + noun combination, like in words such as an X-ray, an e-mail.
Hyphens are most common in:
compound nouns where the second part ends in -er
compound nouns where the first part ends in -ing
compound nouns made with prepositions and adverb particles
Also, nouns beginning with the prefixes anti-, co-, ex-, mid-, non-, pre-, post-, pro-, and self- are often written with a hyphen.
Here are some tips for you on when to use a hyphen:
Use a hyphen only in words where you have seen it used before or in contexts where you know it is necessary (for example in a letter + noun combination).
Use it in a phrase before a noun, such as in a five-meter-high sculpture.
Do not use it in commonly-used noun compounds like an airport or a mobile phone.
Unfortunately, the situation at present is rather confused, so don't be worried if you find the same expression spelt in three different ways (e.g. candyshop, candy-shop, candy shop).
If you are not sure whether to use a hyphen or not, the best thing to do is to look it up in a dictionary, or just write the words without a hyphen.