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Compound Words

We have many words that have grown from the merging of two words. Some have changed over time and merged into a single word.

keyboard, classroom, childlike, redhead, drawbridge, football, paperwork, stepfather

Some require a hyphen.

washing-up, daughter-in-law, e-mail, master-butcher, six-pack, school-run, head-lamp ...

Others seem to work well as separate words:

post office, job centre, vice president, middle classes, fuel tank, car park ...

There is no foolproof way of knowing whether a compound is a single word, needs a hyphen or will stand as two separate words. The computer grammar checker will help and so will a good dictionary (many available on-line). In some instances, there seems to be no universally accepted of writing the word.

For example, semicolon and semi-colon both seem to be acceptable.