Last Minute or Last-Minute? (Hyphen Rule Explained)

Adjectives and nouns like “last-minute” and “last minute” get used differently. You might be wondering where the differences lie. We’ll show you all the main differences you need to know about them.

Last Minute or Last-Minute?

“Last minute” is a phrasal noun. It implies that something occurs at the latest possible time (i.e. “we did this at the last minute”). “Last-minute” is an adjective used to modify another noun. It shows that something occurred as late as possible through a noun form (i.e. “the last-minute trip”).

last minute hyphen

You can refer to AP Style when you want to learn more about adjective forms and hyphens. According to AP Style, “last-minute” should be hyphenated when it modifies a noun.

  • It was a last-minute decision. I’m very sorry.

You can treat hyphens as linkers between two (or more) words. This allows you to demonstrate the modification to the reader so they know what you’re referring to.

Is “Last-Minute” Hyphenated?

“Last-minute” is a compound adjective. You should hyphenate it to show that it modifies the same noun. The modified noun can come before or after “last-minute,” depending on what makes more sense in your writing.

“Last-minute” follows AP Style hyphenation rules. Two or more words are hyphenated according to these rules when they modify the same noun.

  • Last-minute deals are the way to go here. They’ll save you so much money in the long run.
  • I’m not sure about any last-minute holidays now. I want to make sure the family can have fun!

You may also find the noun comes before the adjective. In some cases, this removes the hyphen. However, this does not apply to “last-minute.”

Since “last-minute” without a hyphen is “last minute” (which is a noun form), it doesn’t make sense to remove the hyphen when the modified noun moves. Instead, you can write a sentence like this:

  • The holiday was last-minute. It was still fun, though.

“Holiday” is modified, but “last-minute” is still hyphenated. This isn’t always common in English. It applies here because “last minute” would look jarring.

Is “Last Minute” Two Words?

To use “last minute” correctly, it must be a noun form. This means you are referring to something that happened at the latest possible time. There is no adjective modification here.

“Last minute” is a great way to show that you left something until it was almost too late. You do not need to hyphenate noun forms like this. “Last minute” is known as a phrasal noun, meaning it is a phrase made of more than one word.

  • I did not want to do this at the last minute. Unfortunately, you left me no choice. I’m so sorry.
  • It was done at the last minute. They didn’t know if they were going to commit to the trip.

Last-Minute or Last-minute?

The adjective form has a few different rules associated with capitalizing it in a title. Most of these rules depend on the style guide you follow.

According to most style guides (like APA and Chicago Style), “Last-Minute” is correct, with both words capitalized. This ensures the words fit the rest of the title capitalization.

AP Style suggests that “Last-minute” Is correct in titles, meaning only the “L” is capitalized. You may do this because the hyphen turns two words into one, meaning only the first letter needs to be capitalized.

You can ignore these rules when using the noun form. “Last Minute” should have both parts capitalized in every title style.

Conclusion

“Last-minute” is the adjective form used to modify other nouns. You should do so when a noun comes before (i.e. “the plans were last-minute”) or after (i.e. “the last-minute plans”).

“Last minute” is the noun form, which refers to something happening at the latest possible time. For example, “we did this at the last minute” fits with the noun form.