Recently I've been stuck on the idea that some words that are joined together should actually be separated, as if they are contractions.

Another = an other = an-other.
Something = some thing = some-thing.
whatever = what ever = what-ever.
into = in to = in-to (same with ''unto'').
So on.

The rule on hyphens is to use one when it makes a clearer case but I'm too literal for that.

And what about prefixes and suffixes—actually, they are examples of their own: pre-fix or prefix or pre fix / suf-fix or suffix or suf-fix. But specifically: Re-start or re start or restart / re-evaluate or re evaulate or revaluate.

Confusing me here. I do prefer hyphenating the words but not sure if it is the correct thing to do, regardless if it will win any popularity contests.

Edit: There are also varying rules on whether to hyphenate stretched words, like ''heeeelp'' but it usually isn't done. So why is, say, laughter like ''ha-ha-ha'' hyphenated as such, at least in most stuff I've seen. Specifically it was ''he-he'' but...

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    Hyphens are pretty rare in English. I think you like them because they're sort of a crutch but if we used them the way you say, they'd be in nearly every word. – Catija Jul 14 '17 at 23:25
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    Many of these words were indeed formed from two words. Writing is merely a set of representational conventions mapped imperfectly onto speech. There is no "rule" on the use of hyphens. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 14 '17 at 23:27
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    1N 1933, the OED would have told you that good-bye is hyphenated. Bye, at the time, was still understood to mean the time to come, and when you wished someone a good one, your sense was clear. The hyphen disappeared as bye lost its currency. All languages are in a constant state of evolution. There's a great piece by June Casagrande in the L.A. Times on the subject. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Jul 14 '17 at 23:37
  • You use the word "rule" twice, but there are only guidelines, not "rules". No penalty is assessed if you ignore one guideline or the other. Perhaps a little more attention to things like spelling, agreement in number between subject and verb, and the difference between "if" and "whether", will be of greater benefit to you at this early stage than fretting about the fate of the hyphen. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Jul 14 '17 at 23:49

Hyphenation rules are a combination of tradition and convention.

The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, section 7.77 says,

Far and away the most common spelling questions for writers and editors concern compound terms—whether to spell as two words, hyphenate, or close up as a single word. Prefixes (and occasionally suffixes) can be troublesome also. The first place to look for answers is the dictionary.

Also, in 7.79,

With frequent use, open or hyphenated compounds tend to become closed (on line to on-line to online).

Chicago and any other good style guide will have an extensive discussion of hyphenation for things not found in a dictionary, but sometimes it's useful to treat the hyphen as a letter and think of it as a spelling rule, not a punctuation rule.

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    Rule, rule, rule! Will no-one rid us of these troublesome rules? – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Jul 15 '17 at 2:01
  • Hyphens are a way of communicating to a reader "I'm combining things in a new or nonstandard way". If it becomes standard and the combined words tend to be pronounced as a single word, then the hyphen tends to disappear. – LawrenceC Feb 4 '20 at 22:50

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