Attaching Prefixes to Words Exercise (63)

Identify in each sentence below whether, according to The Chicago Manual of Style and most other style guides, the word with a prefix should have a hyphen connecting the prefix to the base word or whether the prefix should be directly attached to the base word.

    1.
    The anti-immigration group solicited signatures for their petition.
    The antiimmigration group solicited signatures for their petition.

    2.
    She is suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder.
    She is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

    3.
    They hope to re-establish contact.
    They hope to reestablish contact.

    4.
    The multibillion-dollar project is behind schedule.
    The multi-billion-dollar project is behind schedule.

    5.
    His midcareer move was risky.
    His mid-career move was risky.

Answers and Explanations

Whether a prefix is hyphenated to a root word or directly attached varies depending on a range of factors, but in most cases, no hyphen is necessary. Consult a dictionary when in doubt.

1. The anti-immigration group solicited signatures for their petition.
Prefixes ending with an i are always hyphenated to a root word beginning with i.

2. She is suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder.
Post is always attached to a root word without a hyphen, even when the root word begins with a t.

3. They hope to reestablish contact.
Re is almost always attached directly to a root word without a hyphen, even when the root word begins with an e. (Rare exceptions that make distinctions between homophones include re-cover, meaning "to cover again," to distinguish it from recover, meaning "to obtain again.")

4. The multibillion-dollar project is behind schedule.
Multi is always directly attached to a word designating an order of magnitude.

5. His midcareer move was risky.
In most words beginning with mid, the prefix is attached directly to the root word.

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