Writing for Business - A Whatis.com Blog

Nov 13 2008   1:50PM GMT

Quiz: Writing for business — to hyphenate or not?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

typing.jpg Which is correct?

The _________ headers shipped with SuSE Linux 9.0 contain several minor bugs that could not be fixed in time.
a. precompiled
b. pre-compiled

Answer: a

As a rule, the prefixes pre and post do not take a hyphen.

Like most rules, however, this one has exceptions. Use a hyphen if:

  • The last letter of the prefix is the same as the first letter of the word to which it’s affixed.
  • The first letter of the word following the prefix is a numeral or a capital letter.
  • The word following pre begins with a vowel.
  • A compound word follows the prefix.
  • The word might be misunderstood without a hyphen.

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