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Hyphens with Common Prefixes

Should we use a hyphen with a common prefix such as non or un? For example, is it non-alcoholic beverages or nonalcoholic beverages?
Generally, with common prefixes, you do not need to use a hyphen unless it would avoid possible confusion.  Therefore, most writers would write nonalcoholic beverages.

Examples: uninviting
uninterested
noncompetitive
preexisting (some writers would write pre-existing)
pretest
posttest (some writers would write post-test)
Exception: As the above examples suggest, when adding a prefix creates a double vowel or double consonant, many writers use a hyphen.
Examples: ultra-ambitious
non-native

Posted on Tuesday, March 16, 2010, at 9:09 am


10 Comments on Hyphens with Common Prefixes

10 responses to “Hyphens with Common Prefixes”

  1. English Grammar says:

    Mostly, people face problems in using correct grammar with punctuations and i am also one of them. Your blog content always helps me in clearing my doubts. Like the use of correct preposition is really helpful for me. Thanks for this great information.

  2. Janice says:

    Does the prefix sub have a hyphen (e.g.subcontractor or sub-contractor)?

    Thank you so much in advance.

  3. Marion says:

    What about:

    Do they offer any non golf-related merchandise?

    Do they offer any non-golf related merchandise?

  4. Philo says:

    Hello, not being a native speaker, I have always wondered about the following. If you want to use two words right after each other that have the same ending but a different prefix, what do you do?

    e.g., can you write “pre- and posttest” (or “pre- and post-test” for those preferring a hyphen)?

    In Dutch this is what you do, but as said, I always wondered how it’s done in English.

    Many thanks!

    Philo

  5. Brian says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! Very helpful! I have a job editing documents for an engineering firm and I am constantly looking up proper grammar to make sure I am correct. This site is a tremendous help!

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