The Prevailing Style for Prefixes: No Hyphens
The hyphen’s role as a connector between prefixes and words has diminished significantly over the last few decades—and would be even more inconsequential if writers paid more careful attention to this long-standing trend. This post demonstrates how words with prefixes should be treated.
You can still visit many houses and churches today that existed in the antebellum South.
New antifraud measures will save the taxpayer millions in lost revenue. (Exceptions include any words in which the root word begins with i, as in anti-immigration, or with a capital letter, as in anti-American.)
The biannual meeting of the planning committee will be held next Thursday.
Smith cofounded the company with two former classmates. (Some writers prefer to hyphenate co to many words, especially coworker and words in which the root word starts with c, such as coconspirator, but when writing for a publication, follow the preference stated in its style guide. Words in which the root word begins with o, such as co-op, are official exceptions.)
These are sophisticated domestic counterterrorism operations.
Cybercrime is perhaps the fastest-growing industry of the new economy. (New terms beginning with are regularly coined, and they may not initially or ever become a single word, but if they do, the intermediate stage of hyphenation generally does not occur.)
Engaging in too many extracurricular activities may cause fatigue and stress.
Hyperactive children find it difficult to concentrate.
War has badly damaged the country’s infrastructure.
This is the most significant interfaith project of the century so far.
The intramural program encourages developing fitness, skills, and sportsmanship and engaging in friendly competition.
What is the relationship between politics and macroeconomics?
Megacorporations are often the antagonists in so-called airport novels.
Metalanguage is any language or vocabulary of specialized terms used to describe or analyze a language or linguistic process. (Meta-analysis is an exception.)
Various microclimates can occur in an area as small as a backyard.
Sales had improved by midyear. (Exceptions are when the prefix is followed by a proper noun, a numeral, or a phrase.)
The minivan’s popularity waned soon after SUVs became trendy.
One cannot address multicultural education without simultaneously addressing issues of discrimination.
Neonatal death is more common in countries that do not have adequate maternity care for pregnant mothers and pediatric care for newborns. (Root words may be capitalized and the term may be hyphenated, or the prefixed word may itself be capitalized; check a dictionary, and lowercase and hyphenate new terms that do not yet or may never have entries.)
The reporter spoke with several elderly homeowners who had approached the nonprofit organization for help with loans. (Non- is one of the most common prefixes and is perhaps the one most likely to be erroneously hyphenated to a root word. Hyphenate when the root word is a proper noun and/or is itself a compound, as in non-English-speaking.)
What should you do when you’re told you’re overqualified for a job?
Postmodern culture is seen as highly diverse and mass produced. (Hyphenate when the prefix precedes a proper name, as in post-Reformation, and use an en dash when the prefix is to be attached to a compound proper name, as in “post–World War II.”)
Name a common characteristic of a preliterate society. (Root words may be capitalized and the term may be hyphenated, or the prefixed word may itself be capitalized; check a dictionary, and lowercase and hyphenate new terms that do not yet or may never have entries. Use an en dash when the prefix is to be attached to a compound proper name, as in “pre–Civil War.”)
Take a good-quality multivitamin tablet daily. (Exceptions include pro-choice and pro-life and words in which the root word is a proper name.)
It is likely that such cells that lack membranes and protoplasm also lack sensitivity.
The book is an aggressive analysis of pseudoscience. (Retain a hyphen and a capital letter when the root word is a proper name.)
Reeducation is a loaded word generally associated with brainwashing and propaganda. (Hyphenate when an older sense of the word already exists, as in the case of recover [“retrieve”] and re-cover [“cover again”].
The archipelago is a semiautonomous part of the country. (Hyphenate when the root word begins with i, as in semi-invalid.)
The battles were fought in subzero temperatures.
His character’s job is to investigate supernatural phenomena.
The supraorbital ridges are well developed.
Transnational crime undermines the foundations of the worldwide democratic order.
Both men identify themselves as ultratraditional Catholics.
Organic food is unadulterated food produced without artificial chemicals or pesticides. (Hyphenate words when the root word begins with u.)
Underemployment occurs when one does not have a job that is full-time or that reflects his or her training and financial needs.