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Hello, I've been googling this for a bit, but am having trouble finding a satisfactory answer. Apparently, you sometimes use a hyphen when adding 'wide', such as with industry-wide, but sometimes you don't, like with worldwide (which I've also seen written as 'world wide'). I'm not a native English speaker and it seems a bit random to me.On to the sentences I have a question about specifically:

1) First, they can be separated into hospital- and department-wide protocols.

2) During research, both hospitals were asked about the number of protocols used hospital-wide and department-wide.

What would the correct way to write these sentences be and why? (Don't necessarily limit your advice to the hyphens). I personally don't really care for the way the words look without the hyphen, but that doesn't mean it's not correct.

Thanks in advance for any answers Emotion: smile
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It seems like your question is related to how compound words evolve in English.

Compound words are two words put together to make one word. Examples are:

blackboard / whiteboard = black + board was the original (from chalk on slate), and when we had dry-erase markers, the new word whiteboard just came naturally.

lighthouse = used to be light house = a house with a light on top to warn ships that they were near shallow water. The word lightship followed naturally.

lightweight / heavyweight = light + weight/ heavy + weight . These developed from the adjective "light".rather than the noun.

The evolution has three stages.
First the two words are separate.
Second, when they become a common phrase, they are hyphenated.
Third, the hyphen is removed, and the word becomes one. (An example of a word in transition between stage 2 and stage 3 is babysitter. For a short time both the hyphenated and the single word are acceptable.)

Since this is an organic, natural process, compound word formation seems to be somewhat random.

Your two sentences are fine.
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Ahh, I see, so you basically have to judge how common a compound word is and base your decision on that. Thank you for the thorough explanation. I suppose that at some point during the process of moving from the second to the third stage, the words are added to dictionaries. So unless I can find the word in a dictionary I should probably opt for one of the first two stages?
Bart mv So unless I can find the word in a dictionary I should probably opt for one of the first two stages?
Yes. A lone individual cannot influence the evolution; it is a collective process. Dictionary writers (lexicographers) study the patterns of usage and meanings over years, and then make decisions on what words / definitions to add, what words to delete (as archaic), and how they are spelled. Once a word gets into a reputable dictionary (eg. Oxford English Dictionary), it is accepted by other dictionaries. This process happens even now; new words / meanings are added every year.

If you are interested, this etymological dictionary has interesting word histories. It shows how many words in English and related languages (Modern Dutch and German) came from the same roots eg.
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=wide&allowed_in_frame=0
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=wallflower

English is a mongrel language, borrowing and adapting words from many different cultures and languages.

This dictionary is my favorite because it has common suffix words as separate entries:
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/-wide?r=66