Multitasking or Multi-tasking? (Hyphen Rule Explained)

“Multitasking” is a great skill to have. It’s also a great skill to know how to spell it. It seems that it can be either one or two words, but no one knows the answer. This article does, and we’ll teach you whether it’s one word or hyphenated.

Multitasking vs. Multi-tasking

“Multitasking” should be written as one word. It is a noun, and we use “multi-” as the prefix to show that multiple things are happening at the same time. Whenever prefixes are used in this way in English, we drop the hyphen when linked with the root word.

Multitasking or Multi-tasking?

According to Google Ngram Viewer, “multitasking” is vastly more popular than “multi-tasking.” This shows that the one-word variation is the most popular choice that you should stick to in your own writing. The hyphen is incorrect.

Multitasking or Multi-tasking - Statistics

In The Oxford Dictionary and The Cambridge Dictionary, only “multitasking” comes with an official definition. Both dictionaries list it as a noun, which shows that the prefix has allowed us to remove the hyphen from the word.

Neither dictionary recognized “multi-tasking” as a variation of the spelling. Therefore, the hyphenated form is incorrect in this case.


You should always write “multitasking” when using the noun in this way. Remember, it uses the prefix “multi-” with the root word “tasking.” When we combine prefixes with root words, we drop the hyphens to show that they have become one and the same.

If you’re not quite clear how prefixes work, you might notice the same rules apply to the following “multi-” words:

  • Multicultural
  • Multiplier
  • Multimedia
  • Multimillionaire

As you can see, none of the above words have a hyphen between the prefix form and the root word. Yet, they all still make sense and are easy enough to read when you are looking at them.

This is true for all prefixes when combined with common root words in English. Once you understand the rule for one, you will understand the rule for them all.

Some of these examples will help you with it:

  1. I’m not very good at multitasking. I end up getting all confused, which isn’t very good considering my job requires it.
  2. I hate multitasking! I don’t like being overwhelmed with all the things that I have to get done.
  3. If multitasking were so easy, why doesn’t everyone do it?
  4. Multitasking is much easier for me than it is for you. My brain just works in different ways, but that doesn’t mean I’m any smarter.


“Multi-tasking” is incorrect in its hyphenated form. It is not an adjective, so we do not use it to modify a noun. “Multi” is also not a word (without additional information), so we can’t put a hyphen after it when we want to combine two words.

We can usually refer to the AP Stylebook when we want to learn about hyphenation rules. However, AP Style rules only apply when words are being used to modify something.

Since “multi” is not an official word, there is never a case where it can be written hyphenated with “multi-tasking.” Therefore, we cannot use it in this form.

Hopefully, these examples will help you make a little more sense of it all:

  • Correct: I don’t want to keep multitasking with this! It’s already difficult enough to get it all done.
  • Incorrect: Multi-tasking is a learned skill. You might not be good at it right now, but you’ll get it with time!
  • Correct: If you’re not multitasking right now, you’re not working efficiently enough! You really should be trying harder.
  • Incorrect: Can you show me how multi-tasking works? I just can’t seem to figure out the most effective way to do it.

Is “Tasking” Capitalized In The Word “Multi-Tasking”?

We usually finish with a tip to capitalize hyphenated words. However, “Multi-tasking” isn’t an officially recognized word, so there is no reason to learn how to capitalize it.

With that said, “multitasking” is not a proper noun in itself. Therefore, capital letters aren’t useful for it. However, you might find it appropriate to write it with a capital “M” if you start a sentence with it or include it in your titles.

Other than those two exceptions, there is never a reason to capitalize multitasking. It is just a regular noun, after all.