Last week, I received my first ever copy edits from my editor at Kensington. The good news? No rewrites, only minor tweaking. Whew! The bad news? I discovered I am hyphen challenged. As in every single time I hyphenated a word, the editor took it out.
Now, I knew I was comma challenged. I use too many of the pesky little suckers or not enough, or I put them in the wrong place. But hyphens I thought I understood. Uh uh. Bonk. Wrong.
So, figuring I can’t be the only one with the problem, I thought I’d set out the rules for how and when to use a hyphen. Er. (growling noise)
Here are seven rules for hyphens taken from an article by Heather Marie Kosur at http://www.suite101.com/:
1. Use a hyphen between certain prefixes and suffixes, i.e., all-inclusive, ex-husband, and president-elect.
2. Use a hyphen in some compound nouns, such as T-shirt and mother-in-law.
3. Use a hyphen to join two or more coequal nouns, i.e. pairs of nouns that are equal in function. For example, actor-director, singer-songwriter.
4. Use a hyphen to join compound noun phrase modifiers that precede a noun especially when (1) adverbs such as better, best or ill modify an adjective, (2) the second word is a present participle or past participle of a verb, and (3) the compound modifier contains a number. For example, ill-equipped mechanic, blue-collar worker, third-floor suite, self-fulfilling prophecy, ballet-hating husband.
5. Use a hyphen to separate words in a phrase that is functioning as a noun phrase modifier that precedes a noun. For example, all-you-can-eat seafood buffet, out-of-this-world experience, over-the-counter medication.
6. Use a hyphen in numbers between twenty-one and ninety-nine, or to separate the numerator from the denominator in a fraction, as in one-half and two-thirds.
7. Use a hyphen to avoid confusion. For example, re-sign instead of resign, which have different meanings.
There, clear as mud? You can see why I remain a little confused on the subject.
So, it being Halloween and all, what grammar rules scare you?