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I would like to know the reason why hyphen is required before numeral with prefix.

mid-1990 pre-1950 ...

Thanks in advance.

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It's simply an aversion to mixing symbols and words. The same aversion used to apply to suffixes as well and solved, rather illogically, with an apostrophe: 1950's. You still see that from time to time, but most modern styles have opted for the form 1950s.

  • In the same vein (ie avoidance of jarring juxtapositions), the plurals of the nouns do (party) and ex may be written do's and ex's, despite the RULE (!?) that you can't use an apostrophe just to make a pure plural form. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 17 '14 at 15:29

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