One word or two?

Last changed: 11 July 2023

The grammar police are here to help! Get writing tips for English and Swedish in our regular language column.

In Swedish, compound nouns are written as one word, and Swedes enjoy making fun of unfortunate phrases such as “rök fritt” (“smoke freely” rather than the intended “no smoking”).

In English, compounds are sometimes written as one word, and if the words are written separately the meaning may change. All black birds are not blackbirds.

If one part of a compound noun is a proper name or an abbreviation, hyphenate in Swedish but separate the words in English. No “PhD-students“ with a hyphen, please.

  • the VH Faculty / Erasmus student

Published January 2017.