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The Most Common Hyphen Mistakes

A hyphen is probably the least popular punctuation mark. But you can’t get rid of it completely. There are still some phrases that cannot exist without a hyphen. Ideally, you should check out the most common mistakes associated with the hyphen use. This way, you will manage to avoid them in the future.

Using a dash instead of a hyphen

A dash ( — ) is a punctuation mark that aims to signify a meaningful pause in text or abrupt change in idea. Meanwhile, a hyphen ( - ) is a short line that puts several words together. Are you facing a dilemma of choosing between a dash and a hyphen? If you are dealing with two or words that need to be connected, your choice will be obvious.

Dash ( — ) Hyphen ( - )
All people want peace — or so they say. Mary gave a good-night kiss to her son.

Omitting hyphens in phrasal adjectives

Some phrasal adjectives stand without hyphenation, although they are located before a noun. But when two words are sued together to describe a noun, they need a hyphen to be put between them. If you can’t find them in your spellchecker or dictionary, add a hyphen anyway.

Right✔️
The team of developers has come up with a pay-as-you-go plan.

Using hyphens as commas

All punctuation marks have their specific functions. Don’t try to put all of them into a single basket. They are not interchangeable. So, using a hyphen instead of a comma is not a good idea at all.

Wrong❌ Right✔️
Marie–who is a very smart girl–has failed her final exam. Marie, who is a very smart girl, has failed her final exam.

Using hyphens with the word “very” and adverbs ending in -ly

Hyphens are used as glue for creating compound words. But some words are not meant to be connected. This is especially the case with the -ly and “very” words.

Wrong❌ Right✔️
They are a newly-married couple. They are a newly married couple.
Have you heard her very-specific comment? Have you heard her very specific comment?

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