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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Article on when to hyphenate words

The use of hyphens was pretty much of a mystery to me, but more recently due to the Australian English dictionary work, they make a lot more sense. One contributor to my now obsolete open source work many years ago provided a list of hyphenated words which I included in the dictionary. With later versions of the dictionary I completely removed the list of hyphenated words and only included those hyphenated words which were documented in the authoritative Australian dictionaries. Those questionable hyphenations are still more than likely included in Firefox and Google Chrome browsers plus many open source projects, but not in Internet Explorer 10.

When using a word processor the problem is you can hyphenate anything and it will be treated as correct. For example: “I purchased a pre-dog for Christmas.” There is no error flagged by the word processor and a pre-dog doesn’t really make much sense, it should of course be a puppy.

In the online tool I call Word Check (, I provide the documented hyphenated words to assist people when they are trying to determine if a word is normally hyphenated or not. However ultimately to use hyphens correctly requires a better understanding of the rules of grammar.

Thank you to Renée Purdie of Rising Star Designs and Communications ( for providing the following links to articles which people may find interesting. My goal with writing is to gradually improve. I don’t ever expect my writing to be perfect, but it doesn’t hurt to improve my writing skills over time and Renée’s feedback over the years has helped me quite a bit.

I’ll always remember as a result of communicating with Renée how my spelling changed. I previously used the spelling “co-operate” as that is how I believe I was taught in school, but now realise the style has changed and the hyphen is no longer present. Thanks Renée.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator and maintainer of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

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