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The Use of Hyphens with Suffixes

A suffix is defined as a letter or set of letters that follow a root word. Suffixes help to create new words or change the functions of original words in a sentence.

Example

  • ✔️ rebellion (noun) can be changed into rebellious (adjective)
  • ✔️ scandal (noun) can be changed into scandalous (adjective) or scandalize (verb)

Guiding Principles for Hyphens with Suffixes

The use of suffixes is more predictable than the use of prefixes. There are a few major principles to be familiar with:

Suffixes are not hyphenated. The exception is made for -style, -elect, -free, -based.

Example

  • ✔️ Modernist-style drawing
  • ✔️ Mayor-elect Michael
  • ✔️ oil-based paints
  • ✔️ sugar-free drink

You can hyphenate the word when the last letter in the root is similar to the first letter in the suffix. It definitely contributes to better sounding.

Example

  • ✔️ Water-resistant
  • ✔️ graffiti-ism

Generally, hyphens placed before suffixes are optional. They usually depend on the writer's choice. If you have some doubts, you can always use a dictionary or a spellchecker before deciding to place a hyphen before a suffix.

Additional Guidelines

Although the topic of hyphens with suffixes is not broad, there are some additional nuances to know about. Check the table below.

Hyphen Hyphen
"-type," "-elect," and "-designate” face-type
president-elect
"-like" emulsion-like
woman-like
"-fold" (numbers above 10 and those with decimal point) 2.50-fold
"-fold" (numbers below 10) twofold
eightfold
After a proper noun Apple-like computer
New York-like pizza
Transition from one part of the speech to another Skepticism – skeptical
Scandal - scandalous

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