44 votes
Accepted

Do I keep myself "up-to-date" or "up to date" on something?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, as quoted by the site below, you hyphenate if the compound adjective is before the noun and don't hyphenate if it is after the noun. With compound ...
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  • 1,202
27 votes

"Runtime", "run time", and "run-time"

This is not really an answer because I'm also lost but I'd like to point out something that seems to be overlooked in these three ways to write "runtime", "run time" or "run-time". I would risk ...
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  • 370
24 votes
Accepted

Non-existing or nonexisting

Short answer: neither. The word you want is nonexistent. Longer answer: You can actually add a "non" prefix to any word to make up something new, even if it's not in the dictionary. (If you ...
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22 votes
Accepted

"Almost-finished" versus "almost finished"

BEFORE a noun, "almost-finished' is better, since it emphasizes that 'almost' is qualifying 'finished', not 'report'. Not important in this case, but compare 'longest living animal' with 'longest-...
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  • 2,117
21 votes
Accepted

Correct spelling and/or hyphenation for electronic commerce

According to this Google Ngram, both E-Commerce and E-commerce are valid and interchangeable: Likewise, when not beginning a sentence (or in a headline, etc.), the term e-commerce is not capitalized:...
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  • 4,038
19 votes
Accepted

How should a multiple-word noun be punctuated within a compound adjective?

Bryan Garner, Garner's Modern American Usage (2003) has a useful discussion of this problem in his lengthy coverage of phrasal adjectives: E. The Compound Conundrum. When the first or last element ...
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  • 150k
19 votes
Accepted

Is it 'medium-to-long term' or 'medium to long-term'?

Many writers would use a suspended hyphen. Medium- to long-term. You're allowed some discretion on this matter, as reputable writers are not entirely homogenous in their hyphen usage. Between the ...
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18 votes
Accepted

Do I use timeslot or time slot or time-slot?

According to dictionary.com, it should be two separate words "time slot". This useful article on compound words offers the following advice: Many of them are found in the dictionary and are not ...
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  • 7,112
17 votes

"Almost-finished" versus "almost finished"

"almost-finished" is a compound adjective. It is the correct way to say "I am attaching an almost-finished version of the report". "almost finished" is not correct in this case. Here's a sentence ...
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  • 471
16 votes
Accepted

How to hyphenate a negated compound noun?

While I would say the third of your options, "non-defect-source-assesment processes", is most correct, I would strongly suggest trying to rephrase the subject for clarity. The hyphens can be used to ...
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  • 894
16 votes
Accepted

Which spelling is correct: "Re-order" or "Reorder"

Reorder. With re- words, you should use ‘re-’ (with a hyphen) if the next word begins with an ‘e’ or a ‘u’ (when not pronounced like ‘you’). Otherwise, don’t hyphenate. It’s therefore re-...
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  • 1,767
15 votes

Is it proper to use a colon followed immediately by a hyphen?

English documents written in India often use :-. For example: Tatkal tickets shall be issued only on production of one of the ten prescribed proofs of identity shown under (as mentioned in ...
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  • 2,107
15 votes
Accepted

"easy to use" versus "easy-to-use"

Prepositive modifiers don't like to have postpositive dependents.  The more common pattern employs prepositive dependents:  It is a very easy app.  The "very" is a prepositive ...
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14 votes

Pronunciation of "-" sign, particularly in Unix commands

I'm the woman from the video. Saying 'tac' isn't silly at all. I grew up in a military family, so this was used regularly when speaking of a dash. Without getting into details, my father was in many ...
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  • 141
14 votes
Accepted

Use of a hyphen with the word "based"

In most U.S. English style guides, the decision about whether to double- or single-hyphenate a phrase such as "spherical Gaussian based approximations" rests on whether the first word in the string ...
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  • 150k
14 votes

Timestep, time step, time-step: Which variant to use?

A general remark on hyphens from Longman English Grammar by Aleander 1 There are no precise rules. 2 When short nouns are joined together, they form one word without a hyphen (a teacup). But this ...
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  • 13.7k
12 votes
Accepted

"Opt Out" or "Opt-Out"

"Opt out" without the hyphen would be taken as a verb--that is, to opt out or remove oneself from something. I've opted out of attending the conference. "Opt-out" with the hyphen may be used as a ...
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  • 2,425
12 votes

dog-leg, dogleg, or dog leg?

If you look closely at the ODO (Oxford Dictionary Online), they claim that dogleg is American English, while dog-leg is British English. They could have made this clearer, but if you're maintaining an ...
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11 votes
Accepted

Is the usage of a hyphen in "ad hoc" acceptable?

The rule-of-thumb I've found in researching this issue, (though no reference to a specific style guide was referenced – one site linked here) is if Latin and other foreign phrases are not hyphenated ...
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11 votes

How old is the practice of hyphenating compound adjectives?

To identify a “no later than” date for the use in English publishing of hyphens in compound modifiers that appear immediately before nouns, I ran Google Books searches for the words booke and boke for ...
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  • 150k
10 votes

Can "nighttime" be used instead of "night-time"?

I originally closevoted with a comment saying the general trend is to move from two separate words, through the hyphenated form to a single-word form. But actually it's a bit more complex than that. ...
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10 votes

Why do we hyphenate between numbers? Example: twenty-six

To avoid ambiguity. He turned twenty one too many times. Is not the same as He turned twenty-one too many times.
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  • 1,019
9 votes

Pronunciation of "-" sign, particularly in Unix commands

According to a reddit.com post, this usage “originates as a navy term for flag signalling”: A tackline is a length of halyard approximately 6 feet long; the exact length depends upon the size of ...
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9 votes

Hyphenation of "left hand side"

The word "righthand" is perhaps used somewhere, but it is not recognized by the Oxford Dictionary 12th edition Concise. It's up to you which authoritative reference you wish to adhere to. The ...
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8 votes

Co-Founder, Co-founder, or cofounder?

Co-founder. Once hyphenated, the word is a single word, so only needs a capital at the beginning of the entire word. If you write Co Founder (which isn't really a word) then you'd capitalize both. co-...
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  • 81
8 votes

How do you spell wifi / Wi-Fi / WiFi?

The correct spelling is Wi-Fi even if wifi is most used. Google Trends clearly shows this: If it's technical document, I would use Wi-Fi. But, if SEO is very important, I would use wifi (+other ...
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8 votes

Should there be a hyphen in expressions such as "currently-available X"?

I've seen many manuscripts (and some published books) that contain compound modifiers joined by a hyphen even when the first word of the compound modifier is an adverb ending in -ly. As a matter of ...
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  • 150k
8 votes

What should I use when introducing dialogue, hyphens, en-dashes or em-dashes?

If you must use something other than quotation marks for dialog, here is The Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.) 6.91: Em dashes are occasionally used instead of quotation marks to set off dialogue (à ...
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8 votes

Hyphenation of "second most northerly"

I'd be inclined to write this as "the second most northerly coffee shop in Seattle", with no hyphens. But hyphenation is far from a definite area of English punctuation. I don't think any of the ...
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  • 73.3k
8 votes
Accepted

When to use "once-in-a-lifetime" and when to use "once in a lifetime"?

In general, hyphens are used to construct compound adjectives: I had to catch an early-morning train. I like late-night television. She wears extra-large socks. Hyphens are not used when the words ...
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