Attaching Prefixes to Words Exercise (77)

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 team soon became a preeminent national power.
    The team soon became a pre-eminent national power.

    2.
    I was in my midthirties when it happened the first time.
    I was in my mid-thirties when it happened the first time.

    3.
    She approached him about being her coauthor.
    She approached him about being her co-author.

    4.
    He specialized in micro-economics.
    He specialized in microeconomics.

    5.
    Each of the candidates identified as pro-life.
    Each of the candidates identified as prolife.

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 team soon became a preeminent national power.
A word beginning with the prefix pre- is always closed except when that word is a proper name (such as in pre-Victorian).

2. I was in my mid-thirties when it happened the first time.
Words beginning with the prefix mid- are usually closed, but not when the following word refers to a number range.

3. She approached him about being her coauthor.
A word beginning with the prefix co- is always closed, with the exception of co-op (as an abbreviation of the noun cooperative) and co-opt.

4. He specialized in microeconomics.
A word beginning with the prefix micro- (or macro-) is always closed.

5. Each of the candidates identified as pro-life.
The word pro-life is an exception to the rule that a word beginning with the prefix pro- is always closed.

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