Using hyphens in Danish and English

[Translate to English:] Billede: Andersen Jensen, Unsplash

Hyphens are used to ‘glue’ words together to avoid confusion or ambiguity. However, in Danish and English, hyphens are used in different ways. Below, we have provided examples of when to use (and when not to use) hyphens in Danish and English.


  1. Abbreviations    
    DK: CO2-udledning
    UK: CO2 emission

    DK: ph.d.-studerende
    UK: PhD student
  2. Prefixes
    A prefix is a letter or set of letters placed before the stem word to form a different word. In English, the following prefixes are always hyphenated: ‘all-’, ‘cross-’, ‘ex-’ og ‘self-’. 

    DK: ekskone
    UK: ex-wife

    DK: selvbetjening
    UK: self-service

    If a prefix ends in the same vowel that the stem word starts with, you separate them with a hyphen, e.g. ‘re-election’.
  3. Suffixes
    A suffix is a letter or set of letters added at the end of a stem word to form a different word. In Danish, hyphenated suffixes are mostly used in connection with abbreviations, whereas they are more commonly used with hyphens in English – and always after the following suffixes: ‘-type’, ‘-elect’ og ‘-designate’.

    DK: en IT-agtig person
    UK: an IT-like person
    UK: Please use 12-point bold-type font  
  4. Omitted words
    DK: Erhvervs- og samfundsvidenskabelige discipliner
    UK: Business and social science disciplines

    Note! Always include a hyphen in compound adjectives if you omit a word. For example, ‘on-campus and off-campus teaching’ must be written ‘on- and off-campus teaching’ if you leave out the first ‘campus’.

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