It would help to know how to write “high-performing” before you get caught out with the wrong variation. That’s where this article comes into play. We’ll teach you whether it’s one or two words and whether the hyphenated variation is necessary.
High performing vs. High-performing
“High-performing” should always be hyphenated. It is an adjective, which means we use it to modify other nouns in sentences, and it makes the most sense to write it with the hyphen to show how this modification takes place. Without the hyphen, “high performing” does not work.
According to Google Ngram Viewer, “high-performing” is the most popular choice of the two. This clear difference in popularity shows that it is the only correct form we use. Once you understand how hyphen rules apply to adjectives, you’ll understand why it’s needed here.
In The Oxford Dictionary and The Cambridge Dictionary, “high-performing” is defined with the hyphen in place. They also provide plenty of examples that show how it works when the hyphenated form is followed by a noun.
It’s most common for the adjective “high-performing” to come directly before a noun. This works to show us exactly how the modification works and why the hyphens are needed. For example:
- A high-performing employee.
“Employee” is the modified noun when used as an adjective in this case.
“High performing” does not work as a standalone phrase. We cannot use it without the hyphen because it is not an established noun. While both “high” and “performing” have definitions, the combination of the two is better written with a hyphen between them.
Hyphen rules go hand in hand with adjectives in English. Generally speaking, once you learn how one works, you’ll learn how they all work. That’s why we don’t want to encourage you to use this form because it does not follow standard English rules.
You might benefit from checking out some of these examples to see how it works better:
- Correct: I think you should look into a high-performing vehicle to get work like this completed properly.
- Incorrect: I don’t want to hire any more high performing employees because they always make me look bad.
- Correct: High-performing engineers are what we strive to have here. Without them, we wouldn’t have any usable products!
- Incorrect: The high performing company is making it look easy. They are our competition, so we need to kick it up a notch!
“High-performing” should always be written with a hyphen. Remember, it is an adjective, which means we use the hyphen to link the words when they modify another noun. The noun usually comes after “high-performing,” though sometimes it can come before.
We can refer to the AP Stylebook when we want to know more about hyphen rules. In the AP Style, hyphens are used as joiners between words. When we use more than one word to modify the same thing, we must hyphenate them to show a connection.
This allows readers to understand more about what we’re trying to modify and how the combination of “high-performing” changes its definition to account for this.
Perhaps these examples will help you make some sense of it:
- I would love to see the high-performing teams plummet in the leaderboard! It would be a dream come true.
- You’re not the most high-performing candidate we’ve had here, but you’re certainly close.
- I didn’t realize we were working with a high-performing organization! Now I don’t know if I have the skills to help!
- High-performing sports cars are the new thing. You need to have one if you want the people around here to take you seriously.
Is “Performing” Capitalized In The Word “High-Performing”?
Some people get a little confused when capitalizing hyphens. We thought we’d include this section to help you out a bit.
“High-performing” does not need to be capitalized in any capacity. It is not a proper noun, so the capitalization makes no sense. However, you might find that both parts should be capitalized when included in a title.
To help you understand whether this applies to you, you should check your own title style. If you capitalize every other word in your title, then it would make sense to capitalize both parts of “high-performing” to make sure it suits the style.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.