part time/part-time


New Member
Hi there!

I have heard that "part time (without a hyphen)" is an adverb phrase and "part-time (with a hyphen)" is an adjective/ adverb.

Is this true? I checked some dictionaries, but I only found "part-time (with a hyphen)" as an adjective/ adverb.

If the hyphen changes the word class of the words, then does that kind of thing happen to other words with a hypen? - I don't remember which word, but I see some words with a hypen sometimes...

Thanks for your help!

  • Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Can you suggest a phrase with "part time" in it which does not mean "part-time" (as in part-time job)? If you can't then there's probably no distinction.

    As far as I know all the major dictionaries agree on "part-time" with a hyphen, all though, of course, you will be able to find many examples of "part time" meaning exactly the same thing. This word probably hasn't fused ("parttime") because of the two t's. Part time as two words doesn't appear in any dictionary I can find.

    Often compound words can be spelled correctly as two words, hyphenated or fused. I'm afraid this seems to be rather arbitrary. However, a hyphen should always be used instead of a space if there is danger of one of the two words become attached to another phrase so that it becomes ambiguous.

    Monkey F B I

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    A hyphen is often used in English to combine two words that don't really go well together, or to avoid confusion in a case like "re-cover" or "recover" ("I recovered from an illness" or "I re-covered the walls with paintings"). There really is no set rule about when it is OK to use a hyphen in most circumstances, although there are a few rules to remember.

    1. Use a hyphen when connecting a prefix to a proper noun. One example of this given by the Oxford guide to Modern English is "anti-Darwinian".
    2. Use a hyphen to avoid confusion between similar phrases. This is the rule guiding the example of "recovered" versus "re-covered" that I used above. Another example which is slightly different is "third world conflict" versus "third-world conflict".
    3. Use a hyphen in a word such as "co-op" to distinguish it from a word such as "coop"
    4. And of course, use a hyphen if a word is cut off between syllables from one line to the next.

    To actually answer your question, "part time" likely wouldn't be in the dictionary simply because it is two words and not one of the more common two-word phrases. Also, "part time" is a noun (according to rather than an adverbial phrase.

    I can't think of any other examples of this kind of thing off-hand, but I'm sure it happens. Don't worry though, "part time" isn't used too much in English so you shouldn't see it too often.