Is it recover or re-cover; recreate or re-create; reenforce/reinforce or re-enforce/re-inforce; reform or re-form?

Many people make the mistake of just automatically adding a hyphen when using ‘re’ on the front of other words. However, when we add ‘re’ to words, to make them sound like you are doing things again (apart from reiterate), most of them do not actually use a hyphen.

Examples:

  • visit – revisit
  • target – retarget
  • assure – reassure
  • align – realign

We usually add the hyphen only when two letters ‘e’ touch (re-engineer) or the word starts looking like something else. However, sometimes, rather than just looking like another word, it can become another word, so here is where we have to be really careful.

Example 1 – cover:

  • re-cover – to cover again
  • recover – to get better
    (This is another word in its own right.)

Example 2 – create:

  • re-create – to create again
  • recreate – to take recreation/amuse oneself
    (This is another word in its own right.)

Example 3 – form:

  • re-form – to form/become formed again
  • reform – to improve, as by alteration, to change for the better
    (This is another word in its own right.)

Here are a few which catch people out:
Although ‘reinforce’ sounds like ‘to enforce again’, it is spelled with the letter ‘i’ and is not re-enforce or reenforce.