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Tip 61: Hyphens with the prefix ‘re’

Regardless of how good you are at grammar, hyphens can be a pain.

Here is the rule for using the prefix ‘re’ with or without a hyphen:

Use a hyphen with ‘re’ if it meets both of these conditions:

1. ‘Re’ means again.

2. Omitting the hyphen from the word would cause the reader to confuse it with     another word and   give the sentence a different meaning.

RIGHT: After the flood, we had to re-lay the tile in the kitchen.

(You had to do it again.)

WRONG: After the flood, we had to relay the tile in the kitchen.

(Was it a race?)

RIGHT: The quarterback reinjured his throwing arm.

WRONG: The quarterback re-injured his throwing arm.

(The hyphen is unnecessary here.)

RIGHT: I guess I’ll have to re-cover that stained couch cushion.

(This means you have to put a new cover on that cushion.)

WRONG: I guess I’ll have to recover that stained couch cushion.

(If you want it back, this is correct; otherwise, you need that hyphen!)