I've been writing some stuff to my English classes, and in between them, I found myself with a question. There are a lot of ways to divide a word, meaning for example at the end of the sentence - when the space is over, it is a well-known criteria to break-up the syllables, as in any dictionary.

However, I've always been taught that words in English could NOT be separated (as Spanish and Portuguese - my birth languages), and when I began reading and studying the language closer, I noticed that YES! They can be. So, in conclusion, my teachers always said I was never to divide them, which means I do not have a lot of knowledge about this.

Running through the question (which is the main point here), how do I break a word if it's a verb terminating in -ING?

For example:

She was talking.

Can I say the infinitive verb and follow it by a hyphen, allocating the -ing on the line under? E.g.,

She was talk-

Or am I supposed to don't do anything, and continue dealing with them as it is impossible to divide them?

(Making my test look a little bit messy and informal).

I hope some of you can help me, I really struggled to find this information on the internet.

  • 4
    Welcome to EL&U. The term in English is hyphenation, which is probably why you are having difficulty with a search. There is no single set of hyphenation rules, beyond standards like breaking between syllables. This is a matter of style, so you should adhere to the discipline of your editor, publication, or organization, or in the absence of a house style, the guidance of your preferred style manual. For an older question, see What are the rules for splitting words at the end of a line?
    – choster
    May 25, 2017 at 18:11
  • Welcome to the Stack Exchange. You might also be interested in our sister site, English Language Learners.
    – J.R.
    May 25, 2017 at 19:10
  • Related.
    – tchrist
    Nov 24 at 1:35

1 Answer 1


Yes, you can hyphenate words. Yes, for the most part, the suffix is what would go on the next line, as you described.

You can find many examples of this in printed newspapers, because the columns are relatively narrow. One example is shown below:

enter image description here

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