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One of the things that keeps bothering me while using Google's products such as Google Docs, Google Slides, or search engine is the red line under words that include hyphen (e.g. co-operate, broken-hearted...etc).


I do know the usage of hyphen and I do prefer to use it for the purpose of clarification but I can't figure out why google always keeps suggesting to remove it (i.e. cooperate, brokenhearted...etc).

  • Does it have anything to do with rhetoric?
  • Did the hyphen become non-standard?
  • Did it become old-fashioned?

No-hyphen suggestion

closed as off-topic by AmE speaker, JonMark Perry, Scott, jimm101, David Richerby Aug 14 '18 at 16:45

  • This question does not appear to be about English language and usage within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Btw, cooperate is not longer hyphenated, not at least in contemporary American writing, while broken-hearted ironically is. – Kris Jul 12 '18 at 7:56
  • I once read an article about this point; thus I suspected it has something to do with contemporary English and the omitting of hyphen. – Arch Capital Jul 12 '18 at 8:27
  • It could be worse. Be glad that Google doesn't follow the New York Times writing style, they always add the diacritic to coöperate and naïve. – Mari-Lou A Jul 12 '18 at 8:41
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this question is not about the English language but about a product. – AmE speaker Aug 11 '18 at 15:38
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Who says Google prefers not to use the hyphen?

In Google Search, the search string format has some features, including a special meaning for the hyphen character. When you enter a hyphenated pair or group of words, Google searches for the exact pattern, with or without a hyphen.

When words are entered unhyphenated, Google searches for the words, not the phrase.

Of course, the hyphen in hyphenated words (not phrases but say prefixed words) is a different matter. You can enter "co-operate" -cooperate with the quotation marks around the hyphenated word. (The hyphen when placed in front of the word tells Google to exclude "cooperate", it's actually the minus sign in this case.) Just try all combinations and see the behavior of the algorithm.

Here are a few tricks with Google Search; Good Luck.

  • OP doesn't seem to be talking about Google search; rather about Google products (Docs and Slides). – AndyT Jul 12 '18 at 7:53
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    It's no mystery how Google search suggestions work: the suggestions are based off previous searches (and vary based off region too). However, this doesn't explain why the spell checker used in the Google suite of apps (Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc.) doesn't have these hyphenated forms in its dictionary. Also, the focus on Google is a little misplaced—"co-operate" isn't in my dictionary (NOAD) with a hyphen either. – Laurel Jul 12 '18 at 7:53
  • Type in search engine "co-operate," Google suggests "Do you mean cooperate?" Type in Google Dictionary "co-operate," Google Dictionary replies with no hyphen. Not sure why Google emphasize not to use hyphen in all of its products and I do already know that I can search for the hyphenated words but I'm seeking the reason why Google prefers not. – Arch Capital Jul 12 '18 at 8:01
  • @Laurel I've checked Cambridge and Oxford English Dictionaries- both of them have hyphen for words like "broken-hearted" unlike Google. – Arch Capital Jul 12 '18 at 8:05
  • @ArchCapital Keep checking dictionaries and you'll find one that gives you both "brokenhearted" and "cooperate" (such as Merriam Webster) :P – Laurel Jul 12 '18 at 8:34

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