Mammoth Memory

Hyphen – prevents confusion and means “to”

A hyphen is used to join words to indicate that they have a combined meaning, otherwise they might be misinterpreted.

A hyphen has another use when two numbers are joined together (e.g., 45-50); it means “to”.

Hyphens are used to join two words together

A high fence (hyphen) was erected on the order of the land dispute judge to show clearly who owned the two pieces of land. (A hyphen prevents confusion). The two owners were satisfied (hyphen means “to”).

The hyphen’s main purpose is to glue words together. They notify the reader that two or more elements in a sentence are linked so the words cannot be misunderstood. 

A hyphen should be used to prevent confusion.


A man-eating tiger – a tiger that eats humans.

A man eating tiger – a man who’s eating tiger meat.

Springfield has little town charm – Springfield is dreary.

Springfield has little-town charm – Springfield is a charming small town.


Sometimes, a hyphen is used to separate parts of a word in order to make the meaning clear, for instance:


She recovered the sofa – she rescued the sofa from a skip.

She re-covered the sofa – she put a new cover on the sofa.

Hyphens in numbers

Hyphens are used in numbers when you want to indicate a range. In this case, a hyphen means “to”.


300-325 people. (Meaning 300 to 325 people)


There should not be a space either side of the hyphen.



300  -  325 people. X  WRONG!

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