Should you hyphenate "well-prepared" when it is used as a verb, as in the sentence "The night of studying has well-prepared me for the test"?


No, because you shouldn't use "well-prepared" as a verb. You might use "well prepared" as an adverb and a verb, analogous to "thoroughly prepared" in "the studying has thoroughly prepared me for the test," but as noted in a comment the idiomatic word order would be "has prepared me well."

To answer the question in the title, you should almost never hyphenate "well prepared." I would do it only to avoid ambiguity, but I can't think of a sentence containing the phrase that would be ambiguous without a hyphen.

Hyphens are useful when a noun phrase is used attributively to modify a noun, as in "green-tea wholesaler." We need the hyphen here to make it clear that we're talking about a wholesaler of green tea rather than a green wholesaler of tea.

In the case of "well prepared," however, we have an adverb modifying a past participle which will then modify a noun: a well prepared student. There's no chance someone would thing that "well" is modifying "prepared student," so there's no need for a hyphen.

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    Yes, in order to use 'well-prepared' as a verb you'd have to use it in the present tense and all the other modes as well. You'd have to have "I am well-preparing for the test", "I will well-prepare for the test" and so on. This gets really clumsy. As you say 'well' in this case is a normal adverb. – BoldBen Sep 23 '20 at 6:58

As phoog's answer says, "The night of studying has well-prepared me for the test" sounds wrong regardless of whether you use a hyphen or not.

"Well(-)prepared" sounds right in adjectival contexts (where "prepared" is a participle or a participial adjective): "You are well(-)prepared" or "A well(-)prepared student".

There are not very clearly fixed rules about when to use a hyphen between well and a following adjective or participle. In general, hyphenation is preferred more when the adjective or participle is attributive (followed by a noun), and preferred less when the adjective or participle is predicative (as when used after a form of to be): a common style is to write "a well-prepared student" but "The student is well prepared". However, it is also common to use a space both ways (as phoog prefers). It can even be possible to hyphenate in predicative as well as attributive position: see the following questions:

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