Here’s one confusing pair of words that often has writers doing double takes.
Most language arts textbooks will tell you there are two situations when a hyphen should appear between the suffix re and the second part of the word:
•Re is added so that the word is the equivalent of doing something again: In the old days, writers had to re-type each draft of their manuscript.
•Re would result in a confusion with another word: The company decided to re-create its image. Using recreate, as in recreation, would confuse readers.
So re-elect would be correct.
But hold on! Some stylebooks disagree. The Chicago Manual of Style specifically states that no hyphen appears in reelect. The Associated Press Stylebook says a hyphen should appear (re-elect) but not for the grammar reason given above; AP’s reason is that a hyphen should appear between a suffix and the syllable that follows if the suffix ends with the same letter that the second part begins (so re-enlist and recheck are correct).
The best rule to follow is one of consistency. Simply choose a style and stick with it throughout your manuscript.
My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.