When Should You Use a Hyphen?

Last updated Jan 22, 2024
By Gwenydd Jones

If you’re not sure when to use a hyphen, you’re not alone. Students on all our courses regularly make punctuation mistakes related to hyphenation.

And it’s not only our students who struggle with hyphens. Professional proofreaders and copyeditors struggle to remember hyphenation rules all the time. We’ve even spotted mistakes with hyphens in the DipTrans examiner reports!

Do a quick review with this quiz!

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Quiz questions about when to use hyphens

Are the hyphens in the phrases below right or wrong?

1. A highly-wicked chocolate cake.

2. A cheese of the highest-quality.

3. A high-end wine.

4. The highest-calorie option.

5. The highest-selling vegetarian option.

Scroll down for the answers!

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Answers to the quiz on when to use hyphens

1. Wrong. There are no hyphens in compounds with -ly adverbs.

2. Wrong. There’s normally no need for a hyphen if an adjectival compound made up of an adjective and a noun comes after the noun it modifies.

3. Right. Put a hyphen in an adjectival compound that’s made up of an adjective and a noun when it comes before the noun.

4. Right. See note three, the same goes for most superlative adjectives.

5. Right. Compounds made up of adjectives and verb participles are always hyphenated.

If you’re not sure when you should use a hyphen, you’re not alone. Do a quick review with this quiz! #punctuation Click To Tweet

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Written by Gwenydd Jones

Gwenydd Jones is a Spanish- and French-to-English translator, an SEO blogger and a course creator. She is the founder of The Translator's Studio and the lead teacher on its courses. Connect with Gwenydd on LinkedIn or contact her through this website.

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