Hyphens, En Dashes and Em Dashes

When and Where to Use Hyphens A hyphen is a small dash and is the most frequently used of the three punctuation marks. It is mostly used to join words together. A simple example is joining two or more words that describe a noun when they appear before the noun, such as in the following examples: ‘John drove down a one-way street.’ ‘This is a well-written essay.’ ‘The researchers conducted a trial-by-trial analysis.’ The joined words in the above examples are called ‘compound modifiers’, ‘compound adjectives’ or ‘phrasal adjectives’, and the hyphen is used to prevent confusion or ambiguity. For example, without hyphens, the following sentence could be interpreted in two ways (he could be either a working man who …

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