The thing with hyphens is, the more I think about whether to use a hyphen, the more I get confused regarding the same. Also, I've observed that each person has a different view when it comes to clarity with respect to the use of hyphens. To present an example, take the word "old age home." I've found instances of both old-age home as well as old age home. Now, as per my understanding, using a hyphen enhances the clarity as we're referring to a home for old-aged people in this case. So is a hyphen required in this case? Also, are there any concrete rules that one needs to follow when hyphenating terms?

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    If you don't refer to a style guide, the choice is yours. Different style guides say different things. There is no universal rule. The only general guideline is to hyphenate if not doing so could lead to confusion. May 19, 2020 at 5:26
  • Thank you so much for responding to this. So taking my example with respect to old age home, would you say that using a hyphen is required here?
    – MVS
    May 19, 2020 at 5:29
  • @JasonBassford The tendency in UK universities is to require hyphenation for pre-positioned compound adjectival use of that sort. However I am wondering where the term "old-age home" has come from. In Britain they are called "care homes", as "old-age home" would be considered politically incorrect (I would be astonished if that is not the case in America too). It also begs the question of what is "old aged" - the homes or the residents of them.
    – WS2
    May 19, 2020 at 5:53
  • Or "retirement home", though many people still say "old people's home", politically correct or not. There is a difference between a care home and a retirement home, the former usually having medical staff on site.
    – BillJ
    May 19, 2020 at 5:58
  • @BillJ I don't associate "retirement home" with quite the same thing as "care home". The latter is a place where "care" is provided. If it is a smart residential building for the over 55s - with an indoor swimming pool in the basement, squash courts, and spaces for mountain bikes - then it might more-accurately be regarded as a "retirement home".
    – WS2
    May 19, 2020 at 6:04


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