They then asked the question, “When should we use a hyphen?”
Well, first of all, we need to differentiate between a soft hyphen and a hard hyphen.
A soft hyphen is automatically inserted when you run out of space at the end of a line. When you come to edit your text and words move around then the hyphen will disappear.
A word of caution here – make sure you don’t end up with something like:
A hard hyphen, on the other hand, is inserted deliberately when you’re typing. It won’t disappear when you edit your work.
So, this question is all about using a hard hyphen.
When the words are being used as an adjective (i.e. they are describing something) then they should be hyphenated, e.g.
“You can choose from a range of on-board activities.” Here, on-board is describing the activities.
Otherwise, when the words are not describing anything, a hyphen should not be used, e.g.
“When you’re on board you’ll have a range of activities to choose from.”
A final word of caution, however. Don’t mistake a hyphen with a dash. A dash serves to split a sentence up, much like a comma. For starters, a hyphen is half the length of a dash, e.g.
“Your on-board (this is a hyphen) activities – (this is a dash) you can choose from a wide range of activities.”
You may well find that as you’re typing away your software will automatically up-grade your hyphen to a dash when you intend to split up a sentence. Check your Auto-Correct settings if you want this to happen.
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