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Prefix Words

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  Ed Good  —  Grammar Tips
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Many words start with prefixes; e.g., nonresident, antitrust, coparty, and a spate of others. As a writer, you must learn the rules of hyphenation. So let's start with this observation:

Nearly all words formed with prefixes are not hyphenated.

Yet many writers will spell some prefix words one way and virtually identical words another way: non-resident and nonobvious or pretrial and pre-verdict.

In law, older versions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were hopelessly confused. The heading to old rule 21, for example, contained two prefix words, each treated differently:

"Misjoinder and Non-Joinder of Parties."

Rule 13(g) spoke of "co-party." Yet the Federal Rules correctly left out the hyphens in "Interpleader" and "Multidistrict Litigation."


The spell-checkers of MS Word and WordPerfect don't have a clue about correct hyphenation, so they will "reject" many correctly spelled words.


Previous: Ranges of Numbers Next: Prefix Words - Exceptions to the Rule

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