Connect with us

GRAMMAR

Rules on Word Division

Like spelling rules, the rules for word division may seem arbitrary. Actually, they follow specific guidelines. The following rules explain the basics of properly dividing words.

Published

on

Like spelling rules, the rules for word division may seem arbitrary. Actually, they follow specific guidelines. The following rules explain the basics of properly dividing words. A good dictionary is the best guide for divid- ing words correctly.

General Rules

Following are two general rules for word division.

1. Avoid dividing words at the end of more than three successive lines.

AVOIDBETTER
We came into the confer-
ence hall late but man-
aged to find our seat-
ing arrangements before
the first speaker began.
We came into the confer-
ence hall late but man-
aged to find our seating
arrangements before the
first speaker began.

2. Avoid dividing a word at the end of a page or dividing the last word of a paragraph.

Syllables and Word Division

Words are divided only between syllables. As a result, one-syllable words such as trough, while, and there are never divided.

Each syllable in word division must contain a vowel; therefore, most contractions cannot be divided.

  • con-trol (not con-tr-ol)
  • couldn’t (not could-n’t)
  • hy-drau-lic (not hy-dr-au-lic)
  • isn’t (not is-n’t)

When a word is divided, there must be more than one letter on the first line and more than two letters on the second line.

INCORRECTCORRECT
He apologized to everyone most sincere-
ly.
He apologized to everyone most sin-
cerely.
She told reporters that all her jewel-
ry had been stolen.
She told reporters that all her jew-
elry had been stolen.
“Look at this letter; it’s full of e-
rasures.”
“Look at this letter; it’s full of era-
sures.”
He’s not sick. He’s suffering from a-
pathy.
He’s not sick. He’s suffering from ap-
athy.

Single-Letter Syllables

A single-letter syllable will always be a vowel. Generally, a single-letter syl- lable within a word should be left with the first part of the word and not carried over to the second line.

  • bus-i-ness = busi-ness (not bus-iness)
  • ox-y-gen = oxy-gen (not ox-ygen)
  • sep-a-rate = sepa-rate (not sep-arate)

When two single-letter syllables occur together in a word, divide the word between the single-letter syllables.

  • grad-u-a-tion = gradu-ation (not grad-uation)
  • in-sin-u-a-tion = insinu-ation (not insin-uation)

When the single-letter syllable a, i, or is followed by the final syllable ble, bly, or cal, join the two end syllables and carry them over to the next line.

  • cler-i-cal = cler-ical (not cleri-cal)
  • de-pend-a-ble = depend-able (not dependa-ble)

Final and Double Consonants

If a final consonant preceded by a vowel is doubled before adding a suffix, divide the word between the two consonants.

  • plan + ing = planning = plan-ning
  • set + ing = setting = set-ting
  • win + ing = winning = win-ning

If the root word ends in a double consonant before the suffix is added, divide the word between the root word and the suffix.

  • assess + ing = assessing = assess-ing
  • tell + ing = telling = tell-ing

A word should never be divided between two or three consonants pro- nounced as one.

  • catch-ing (not cat-ching)
  • cush-ion (not cus-hion)
  • leath-ery (not leat-hery)

Hyphenated Words

Divide hyphenated words and compound hyphenated words only at the hyphen that connects them.

  • self-assessment = self-assessment (not self-assess-ment)
  • ex-husband = ex-husband (not ex-hus-band)
  • client-oriented approach = client-oriented approach (not client-or-iented approach)

Proper Names

Avoid dividing a person’s name or any proper name. Separate titles, initials, or degrees from names only when it is unavoidable.

AVOIDBETTER
Mrs. Joan Cunning-
ham
Mrs. Joan Cunningham
Ms. Angela
Sortino
Ms. Angela Sortino
George Watson,
PhD
George Watson, PhD

Figures and Abbreviations

In general, avoid dividing figures and abbreviations. However, if parts of an address or date must be separated, use the following guidelines.

Dividing Addresses

AVOIDBETTER
15
Water Street
15 Water
Street
557 West Lock-
port
557 West
Lockport
1903
71st Avenue
1903 71st
Avenue
New York, New
York
New York,
New York

Dividing Dates

AVOIDBETTER
August
20, 1976
August 20,
1976
September 15, 19-
55
September 15,
1955
1903
71st Avenue
1903 71st
Avenue
New York, New
York
New York,
New York
Continue Reading
Advertisement