Posted in English

Don’t Believe the Híf

More from “Camões Conseguiu Escrever Muito Para Quem Só Tinha Um Olho”. Its very good. Not at all what I expected (I thought it’d be much more like those toilet books like “F in Exams”) but very educational for intermediate Portuguese learners. I’m writing out this list of compound words in the hope that it’ll help me remember when to use a hyphen. They’re words commonly written incorrectly, with or without hyphens (hífens)

Abaixo-assinado and Abaixo assinado: The first is basically a petition, whereas the second is more like “the undersigned”

Antiacordo and pró-acordo. Pró-acordo needs an accent because the stress is on the prefix. A lot of words prefixed Pró, Pós or Pré seem to be like this. Antiacordo doesn’t need a hyphen because when the second part of the word begins with a consonant (other than h) or a vowel that’s different from the last letter or the prefix it doesn’t need one. The other examples she gives include autoevaliação, extraescolar, hidroeléctrico and plurianual.

Anti-inflamatório takes a hyphen because anti ends in an I and inflamatório begins with one.

Antirrugas and antissocial don’t need a hyphen but the r/s gets doubled to preserve the pronunciation, much as we’d do in English.

Bem-vindo: bem and mal tend to be hyphenated in situations where they’re joined to words that begin with vowels or Hs. When there stem word starts with a consonant it’s a bit more iffy. Mal tends to be joined to the stem word more often (malmandado, malcriado) whereas bem is more likely to be hyphenated (bem-mandado, bem-criado) but some conjoined words starting with bem do exist, like be feito and benquerente. Benvindo (capitalised) can also be a surname, apparently.

Coautor: co- is generally not hyphenated.

Contrassenha : as with some of the examples above, the s gets doubled to preserve the pronunciation.

Cor de laranja/Cor-de-rosa: she explains this in terms of one being a locution with its own meaning and the other not. I guess one is “the colour of an orange” and the other is “rose-coloured” but this just looks very inconsistent to me.

Ex-marido: words prefixed with ex in general have hyphens

Dia a dia, unlike day-to-day, has no hyphens

Efeito de estufa (greenhouse effect) and Fogo de artifício (fireworks) are “locuções nominais” and don’t need hyphens

Fato de banho (bathing suit), gaita de foles (bagpipes) and Fim de semana (weekend) don’t need hyphens because they’re a “locuções substantivas”

Febre-amarela (yellow fever) is a compound word and needs a hyphen

Galinha-da-Índia, louva-a-Deus, ouriço-do-mar are zoological species and all need hyphens. Could also have mentioned estrela-do-mar and porquinho-da-Índia

Grão-de-bico mad noz-da-Índia are examples of botanical species and behave the same way as the zoological species above.

Georreferenciação is another compound word that needs a double r to preserve the pronunciation.

Hás de /hei de: this is a bit niche. It used to be correct to write some forms of haver+de with a hyphen between them but in the acordo ortográfico it ceased to be correct, so you’ll see both forms. There’s a ciberdúvidas question about it here.

Hiper-rugoso: hiper needs a hífen when the stem word begins with an r.

Infraestrutura: if the word following “infra” begins with a consonant or a different vowel, it can be joined as one word

Infrassom: of the stem word starts with an r or an s then it gets doubled for the sake of pronunciation.

Intra-abdominal has a hyphen because the stem word starts with an a.

Limpa-para-brisas is a compound word (windscreen wipers) and takes two hyphens

Mais-que-perfeito: where this refers to a verb tense (ie, it means “plu-perfect” not “more than perfect”) it takes hyphens.

Micro-ondas: takes a hyphen because ondas begins with a vowel

Microrradiografia: the r is doubled to preserve the pronunciation where “micro” is followed by an r.

Minissaia: if the prefix Mini is followed by an s then it’s doubled to preserve the pronunciation.

Neorrealismo: if the prefix Neo is followed by an R it is doubled to preserve the pronunciation

Pós-graduação and pré-historia: pós and pré always have hyphens

Recém-nascido (newborn): likewise, any compound word starting with recém takes a hyphen

Sem-abrigo (homeless): likewise, any compound word starting with sem takes a hyphen

Semirrigido and semisselvagem: where “semi” is followed by an r or an s, it is doubled to preserve pronunciation.

Super-homem /supermulher: this immediately struck me as inconsistent like the example of cor de laranja and cor-de-rosa but in this case there’s a decent reason: homem begins with an h, and a lot of prefixes like supra and extra and contra and infra take a hyphen when they are followed either by an h or by the same vowel they end with. Anti-higiénico, anti-homofobia, extra-humano for example. Supermulher has a nice solid consonant so it’s immune.

Supraestrutura is the same story as infraestrutura.

That was a really useful list because I find those a bit random, so it’s good to know there’s some method to the madness!