I’ve written many times about my dislike of the hyphen, the most tedious of all punctuation marks. Hyphens connect words, prefixes and suffixes and are generally used to avoid ambiguity. But hyphens often confuse matters.
Unfortunately, a definitive collection of hyphenation rules does not exist. Rather, different style manuals and dictionaries prescribe different guidelines for its use.
However, there are certain instances where the need for a hyphen is obvious. Below are nine sentences that need hyphens for clarity.
1. Susan decided to resign her employment contract.
Susan decided to re-sign her employment contract.
2. Jacob recovered the chair and made it look new.
Jacob re-covered the chair and made it look new.
3. We were told a story about a man eating shark.
We were told a story about a man-eating shark.
4. The battalion was made up of six foot soldiers.
The battalion was made up of six-foot soldiers.
5. The patient suffered from disease causing poor nutrition.
The patient suffered from disease-causing poor nutrition.
6. Anna returned the stolen vehicle report.
Anna returned the stolen-vehicle report.
7. I must repress that dress.
I must re-press that dress.
8. We found ourselves in a dirty movie theater.
We found ourselves in a dirty-movie theater.
9. Was the father to be stabbed to death in the bar?
Was the father-to-be stabbed to death in the bar?
Any other examples to share, Ragan readers?
Laura Hale Brockway is a medical writer and editor from Austin, Texas. Read more of her work at impertinentremarks.com.