What is a Hyphen Punctuation Mark?

Hyphens are a form of punctuation mark. They can be used to join words or parts of words. Unfortunately, it’s not compatible with other types of dashes.

They look like this ‘-.’

They can be utilized for a range of purposes. For example:

  • Hyphen punctuation marks can be used to join words or parts of words. However, it’s not interchangeable with other kinds of dashes.
  • You can also use a hyphen in a compound modifier when the modifier comes before the word it’s modifying. Not sure what this means? No worries. A compound modifier comprises two words that function like one adjective. When you link words with the hyphen, you make it obvious to readers that the terms work as a unit of meaning.

How do you use a hyphen example?

Look at these example sentences demonstrating how to use hyphens in sentences.

  • It’s recommended you don’t knock down any load-bearing walls when renovating.
  • Fast-acting medication can be helpful when one has a headache.
  • There are some beautiful-looking plants in the garden.
  • She was star-struck to meet her idol.
  • We’re looking for a pet-friendly hotel.

How to Use Hyphen Punctuation Marks in Writing

Hyphens are most commonly used to join two or more words together.

For example, they can create compound adjectives that combine two nouns into a single idea.


  1. Hyphens forming original compound verbs

Hyphens can create original compound verbs, typically to humorous effect.

The skateboarder face-planted his entire career

The clown custard-pied his way through life

  1. Hyphens can be used to describe the age of things

Hyphens are used to tell the age of people or objects

The couple had a three-year-old-child

The man ate a three-year-old sandwich

Hyphens are used unless the age is written in the plural form

The child is three years old

  1. Hyphens used to reduce ambiguity

If you are worried that readers will become confused by descriptions, hyphens can be used to avoid this.

Springfield has little-town charm.

This sentence implies that Springfield has the charm of a little town.

Without it, the reader may think that the town has little charm, which is the opposite of the writer’s intention.

  1. Hyphens used to write numbers

Hyphens can also be used to describe the time frame of an event, such as one that lasts from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm

The meeting will take place on Monday from 3:30-4:30

Hyphens should also be used to separate all numbers from twenty-one through ninety-nine.

What is the difference between hyphens and dashes? Hyphen Punctuation Vs. Dashes

Hyphen punctuation marks are often confused with dashes, so you might need to teach students how to sport the difference in how hyphen punctuation marks are used differently from dashes. For example, a hyphen punctuation joins two or more words, while a life separates words into parenthetical statements. The two are sometimes confused because they look similar, but their usage differs. Also, hyphen punctuation marks are not separated by spaces, while a dash has a space on either side.

Hyphens are shorter than dashes; link two words so the word or phrase makes sense. On the other hand, dashes separate information and are parenthesis, like brackets.

Choose your Reaction!