Hyphen is the shortest of horizontal lines. Hyphen is a punctuation mark used between compound modifiers. According to Trimble, “the hyphen is used for small jobs, like making compounds, setting off any prefixes that might otherwise create ambiguity, showing syllable breaks in words, and so on.”

When to use it:

First, hyphen takes place where there is a prefix, like “self-confidence”. Second, we use hyphen when the compound words need to be separated. In other words, hyphen is used to connect two or three short words which can not change their order. Also, we do not use it with an adverb (-ly) started, such as widely used saying. Besides that, we do not put hyphen with a compound modifier follows its noun.

How it can help:

It can make your sentence have a good-looking structure. The phrase with hyphens can show a unit as a whole and make clear sense to the reader without being confused.

Correct Usage:

This is a one-way street.
Here are some chocolate-covered peanuts.
Trimble is such a well-known author.
President has re-signed a petition.
Erica is semi-independent.
This cake looks shell-like.

Incorrect Usage:

The peanuts were chocolate covered.
The author was well known.
He resigned from a job.
He was asleep but semiconscious.
John is such childlike.

Examples from Trimble

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