Attributive adjectival construction of two or more words is hyphenated: a well-known writer, an out-of-this-world book, etc., but not so for predicate adjectival construction, e.g. the writer is well known. Adverbs ending with ‘ly’ are never followed by a hyphen.

There is generally no need to use a hyphen after a standard prefix, with the following exceptions:

  • when the second element of the word commences with the same letter as the prefix ends (e.g. re-edit, re-entry, anti-intellectual), but cooperate/coordinate are exceptions
  • to distinguish words which could have two meanings (e.g. re-collect/recollect; re-cover/recover; pre-date/predate, re-sign/resign)
  • where the second element requires an initial capital/is a proper name (e.g. pre-Enlightenment, anti-Nazi)
  • when it is followed by a date (e.g. pre-1976)
  • when attached to an italicised word or one in quote marks (anti-glasnost; semi-‘pickled’)
  • when the prefix ‘ex-’ means former (e.g. ex-website designer)
  • with a short, monosyllabic word (e.g. re-use, re-ink)—to prevent it being read as one syllable
  • when the prefix ‘pro-’ means to take a stand for, as in pro-choice
  • when the prefix ‘non-’ is used to negate a word which could stand in its own right (e.g. non-perishable, non-violent, whereas words such as nondescript and nonchalant cannot be separated and are thus written as one word).

Correct Incorrect
life-blood life blood, lifeblood  

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