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Jane Straus - Hyphens with the Prefix re

Hyphens with the Prefix re


 
Jane Straus is the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation and Enough is Enough! and developer of GrammarBook.com

Many of us find hyphens confusing. The prefix re can make hyphenating even more of a head-scratching experience. However, there is really only one rule that you need to learn to determine when and when not to hyphenate with re.

 

Rule: Use the hyphen with the prefix re only when re means again AND omitting the hyphen would cause confusion with another word.

 

Example: Will she recover from her illness?
Re does not mean again so no hyphen.

 

Example: I have re-covered the sofa twice.
Because re does mean again AND omitting the hyphen would have caused confusion with another word, hyphenate.

 

Example: The stamps have been reissued.
Re means again but would not cause confusion with another word; therefore, do not hyphenate.

 

Example: I must re-press the shirt.
Re means again AND omitting the hyphen would cause confusion with another word so hyphenate.

 

Pop Quiz:

 

  1. It is good to re-examine your priorities every few years.
  2. The grocery store needed to replenish its stock of fruits and vegetables.
  3. Re-enter your password or you will be denied access to the site.
  4. She recovered from the accident more quickly than expected.
  5. I have never recovered my dining chairs before, but it looks easy enough to do.
  6. Where did the expression, “Try not to reinvent the wheel,” come from?
  7. You should repress your skirt before wearing it again.

 

Pop Quiz Answers:

 

  1. It is good to reexamine your priorities every few years.
  2. CORRECT
  3. Reenter your password or you will be denied access to the site.
  4. CORRECT
  5. I have never re-covered my dining chairs before, but it looks easy enough to do.
  6. CORRECT
  7. You should re-press your skirt before wearing it again.

 

Wordplay:

In a democracy, it’s your vote that counts; in feudalism, it’s your Count that votes.

Jane Strauss

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