Understanding the Usage: ‘In Person’ vs ‘In-Person’

Understanding the correct usage of the phrases “in person” and “in-person” can be a little tricky. Although they contain the same words, they function differently in a sentence. Whether you should use a hyphen often depends on the grammatical role each phrase plays.

This guide will take you through the main differences and teach you how to use them correctly.

Adjective vs. Adverb

The basic rule is that “in-person” with a hyphen is used as an adjective, and “in person” without a hyphen is used as an adverb.

  • In-person: An adjective used to modify a noun. It needs a hyphen to show that it functions as an unit adjective. It describes an activity that involves the physical presence of someone, such as an “in-person interview” or “in-person classes”.
  • In person: An adverbial phrase that indicates an action done personally or physically, rather than remotely or virtually. It doesn’t require hyphenation, and it modifies a verb. For example, you might “visit a friend in person”.
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Context matters

Because these phrases should be used differently, it’s critical that you consider the context of the sentence. The phrase you choose will influence the sentence’s overall meaning. Always ask yourself whether you’re using the phrase as an adjective to modify a noun or as an adverb to adjust a verb.

Remember that adjectives provide additional information about nouns, and adverbs provide more information about verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.


Always be consistent in your choice between “in person” and “in-person”. Once you’ve decided which one to use based on its grammatical role, keep it consistent throughout your writing. Consistency not only improves clarity but also ensures adherence to standard language conventions.



The primary distinction between “in person” and “in-person” lies in their function within a sentence. Therefore, deciding which one to use boils down to identifying whether you want to modify a noun (use “in-person”) or a verb (use “in person”). Remember that while English may sometimes seem complicated, getting a firm grasp of these rules will make it easier to navigate. Practice these rules using the examples provided until you feel comfortable distinguishing between the two.

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