AP Style

Tricky AP Style rules for nonprofit, none, noon

The prefix of “non” can often be tricky –– hyphen or no hyphen?

Here’s what the AP Stylebook says about it:

“The rules of prefixes apply, but in general, no hyphen when forming a compound that does not have special meaning and can be understood if [the word] “not” is used before the base word. Use a hyphen, however, before proper nouns or in awkward combinations.”

For example: it was a non-nuclear weapon. (See how “not nuclear weapon” doesn’t make sense?)

Another example: The nonprofit company is holding a charity ball. (Nonprofit can be rewritten as a not-for-profit company, so use the hyphen.)

Here are some other non- words:

noncombat
noncombatant
nonrestrictive clauses
non-U.S. governmental bodies
non-U.S. legislative bodies

The prefix non- is not to be confused with the word none. Here’s the AP Stylebook entry for “none”:

“It usually means no single one. When used in this sense, it always takes singular verbs and pronouns: ‘None of the seats was in its right place.’

“Use a plural verb only if the sense is no two or no amount: ‘None of the consultants agree on the same approach. None of the taxes have been paid.'”

And don’t forget about our favorite time of the day: noon. Here’s what AP Stylebook has to say about “noon”:

“Do not put 12 in front of it.”

Because that would be redundant, right? Think about it:

“I’ll see you at 12 noon.”

“Thanks, in case noon doesn’t cover it, I now know you mean 12.”

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