How to Hyphenate Words


How not to do it…!

Hyphenation is not the most important thing in the world, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. Here are the three rules you need to obey if you want to get it right.

  1. Hyphenate in between syllables. Syllables are just the different sounds in a word, and you can count them. For instance, happily has three syllables because there are three different sounds (hap-, -pi- and -ly). Putting the hyphen in between syllables just makes it easier to read. This also means that you can’t hyphenate words that have only one syllable. Sorry, but you just can’t…!
  2. Start the second part of the word on the next line with a consonant. Again, it just makes it easier to read if you start the second part with a consonant. Hence, the word ‘cleaning’ in the picture should be hyphenated before the ‘n’ and not after!
  3. If there’s a double consonant or two consonants in a row, put the hyphen in between the two. This almost always makes the word easier to read because it breaks the word in a ‘natural’ position. For instance, the word ‘railway’ naturally breaks into ‘rail-‘ and ‘way’.

And that’s it…! Here are a few sample questions to test yourself on.


Hyphenate the following words correctly. (There may be more than one option!)

  1. cleaning
  2. happily
  3. hero
  4. barn
  5. rolling
  6. rhythm
  7. backward
  8. tiller
  9. begin
  10. merrilly

Leave a Reply