Hyphenated Prefixes: Self- and Post-

Last week I developed a list of joined prefixes that do not require a hyphen.

Today I will share a list of prefixes that are hyphenated.

“Self-” is always hyphenated.

Examples: self-adhesive, self-assessment, self-assured, self-contempt, self-critical, self-defeating,

self-defense, self-directed, self-doubt, self-educated, self-evaluation, self-imposed, self-improvement, self-renewal, and self-restraint

“Post-” is always hyphenated when the second part of the word is capitalized.

Examples: post-Cambrian, post-Darwinian, post-Freudian, post-Victorian

According to the AP Style Guide, the prefix “post-” is usually a joined prefix, i.e., without a hyphen.

Examples: postseason, postwar, postdoctoral, postdated, postscript

The AP Style Guide suggests following Webster’s New World dictionary,

which has a relatively long list of non-hyphenated “post-” words, and if it’s not listed there, hyphenate the word.

However, the SPE Style Guide says “post-” should be hyphenated all the time.

Knowing how eagerly engineers run to the dictionary every time they want to hyphenate a prefix,

I would recommend going with the SPE Style Guide, just for the sake of expediency.

In short, go ahead and hyphenate “self-” and “post-” words.

Except “selfish” and “post office,” of course.


2 Responses to “Hyphenated Prefixes: Self- and Post-”

  1. Justin Says:

    Great. Any tips on how to write post as a prefix to a year? Do I write post 1978 or post-1978?

  2. markweiss86 Says:

    I’m having problems with the fact that the post -season is actually part of the season

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