The trend in modern writing is away from using hyphens with prefixes and suffixes. For prefixes, the general rule is not to use a hyphen when combining with a word starting with a consonant (bypass, for example). Do use a hyphen if the prefix ends in a vowel and the word it’s combined with begins with the same vowel (pre-empt; but cooperate, coordinate). Also use a hyphen if the word following the prefix is capitalized (anti-Nixon), or to join doubled prefixes (sub-subparagraph). Guidelines for specific prefixes and suffixes follow.
Use a hyphen when forming a word that indicates occupation or status (co-host, co-worker); otherwise, use no hyphen (coexist, coed).
Always use a hyphen with this suffix: President-elect Jim Miller.
Do not use a hyphen if it means out of (excommunicate, for example). Do use a hyphen if it means former (ex-wife, ex-president).
Always hyphenate: great-grandfather.
Do not use a hyphen unless the letter L would be tripled or the first word is a proper noun: businesslike, bell-like, Rastafarian-like.
Do not use a hyphen unless followed by a capitalized word: midterm, mid-American.
No hyphen: miniskirt, minivan.
Do not use a hyphen unless it is followed by a proper noun or if the combination is awkward: nonjudgmental, non-nuclear, non-British.
No hyphen: overextend, overrate.
Use a hyphen when indicating support for something: pro-chocolate. Otherwise, do not use a hyphen: pronoun, prorate.
Always use a hyphen: self-important, self-defense.
Do not use a hyphen unless the word it is being combined with begins with an I: semisweet, semi-ignorant.
Do not use a hyphen unless the word it is combined with is capitalized: superpower, super-Democrat. EXCEPTION: Super Bowl.
No hyphen: ultraright, ultraviolet.
No hyphen: underdog, underground.
For nouns or adjectives, consult a dictionary, but here are some common examples: breakup, checkup, cover-up, follow-up, grown-up, holdup, makeup, mix-up, pileup, push-up, runner-up, shake-up, warm-up (also warm-down). As verbs, spell as two words.
- What time does warm-up start?
- I never warm up much.
No hyphen: uptown, upstairs.
Use as two words: vice president, vice chair.
No hyphen: nationwide, worldwide.
Usually hyphenated: wide-awake, wide-open. EXCEPTION: widespread.