Inner city or Inner-city? (Helpful Examples)

Okay, so you want to write about coming from the “inner city,” but you don’t know how to write it? That’s where we come in. We’ll teach you whether it’s one or two words. You might need to write it in its hyphenated form in some cases.

Inner city vs. Inner-city

We can use “inner city” when it is a noun. In this case, we are simply talking about someone coming from the inner city. “Inner-city” should be hyphenated when it is an adjective. We can figure this out because a noun will come directly after it.

Inner city or Inner-city?

According to Google Ngram Viewer, “inner-city” and “inner city” are almost identical in English. This shows that both forms are popular, and you might need to use them both. It depends entirely on what works best for the context you’re writing in.

Inner city or Inner-city - Statistics

In The Oxford Dictionary and The Cambridge Dictionary, “inner-city” is officially recognized as an adjective. We use the hyphen when it modifies a noun in a sentence, and both dictionaries give us examples to show this.

Both dictionaries also give a definition for the noun “inner city.” They also state that there is no other noun present to modify when used in this way since “inner city” is its own noun.

Here are how the differences between adjectives and nouns look:

  • Adjective: The inner-city areas need a lot of upkeep to make sure the locals are happy.
  • Noun: I come from the inner city, and I have never left.

Inner city

“Inner city” is correct as a phrasal noun. We can use it whenever it is the main object of the sentence, which usually allows something else to modify it. It works best when we are talking about coming from the “Inner city” more than anything else.

It’s fairly common to see it in this form when people want to talk about where they were raised. That’s why it’s so clear in the graph that both the hyphenated and unhyphenated forms are used almost identically.

These examples should help you to make a little more sense of it:

  1. If you haven’t been to the inner city yet, I really recommend you check it out! It’s got so many great restaurants.
  2. The inner city isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You don’t have to go there to get the full feel for this place.
  3. I’m not from the inner city, but it’s certainly my favorite place to go when I’m feeling down.
  4. The inner city keeps on giving! You’ll always find something there that you’ve never come across before!


We can use “inner-city” as a compound adjective. Grouping the two words with hyphens is a common rule in English that we must follow. It allows us to show that the two words are used to modify the same noun in the sentence.

If you don’t fully understand hyphen rules yet, you can refer to the AP Stylebook guidelines. According to AP Style, we use hyphens are joiners between words.

When multiple words modify the same noun in a sentence, the hyphen is used to connect them. This allows people to understand where the modification is coming from and that “inner city” works as one word.

These examples should explain all there is to know:

  1. The inner-city buildings are looking more derelict every time I see them.
  2. I don’t think the inner-city goons will be bothering us again! I’ve managed to deal with them.
  3. You’re not an inner-city dweller anymore, mate. You have got to get over yourself!
  4. I don’t like the inner-city buzz. It’s too much for me to handle when I’m out there on my own!

Is “City” Capitalized In The Word “Inner-City”?

Finally, let’s look at how capitalization works when working with hyphens.

“Inner-city” works without the need for capitalization. It is not a proper noun; it is just a way to describe a place. With that said, you might find it necessary to capitalize both parts when using it in a title.

If you choose to capitalize every other word in your title, then it would make sense to capitalize both parts of “Inner-City.” This will help to keep it more in line with the rest of your writing and make sure you’re still following a professional format.