Login or log in? Water-ski or water ski? Tackling tricky hyphenation issues


Do you ever login to your email? Or do you log in? Either way, do you use your log-in? During the holiday season, do you use gift wrap to gift-wrap gifts? Do you use your pickup to pick up the kids as they hang out at their favorite hangout?

If you find these matters intimidating, don’t. Even people with excellent language and punctuation skills can be stumped when it’s time to decide whether a term should be one word, two words or hyphenated.

Really, how could you guess that a water-skier water skis on water skis? And even if you did suss out that water-skiing takes a hyphen, your sussing skills would betray you if you had to write about skeet shooting, which is not hyphenated.

If you don’t want to stress over these matters, good news: You don’t have to. No one is expected to know them all. Not even copy editors commit all these terms to memory.

But if you would like to approach these hyphenation situations with greater confidence, you need to know where to look them up and how. Here's my recent column on how to tackle even the trickiest hyphenation questions.

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