One on one or One-on-one? Learn if “One on one” is hyphenated

Hyphenation rules can be confusing at first if you’re not used to seeing them or working with them. Knowing whether it’s one on one or one-on-one is an example of hyphenation in English, and it’s good to know how to hyphenate words and when to use them correctly. So, is one on one hyphenated?

One On One Or One-On-One – Hyphenated Or Not?

You should hyphenate one-on-one when you’re using it as an adjective to modify a noun. You should keep it unhyphenated when you’re using it as a phrase noun and it isn’t modifying any other nouns in the sentence. It’s more common to see one-on-one written hyphenated. The one on one hyphen rule has very few exceptions where it’s possible to see it without a hyphenation.

Examples Of When To Use “One On One”

When we look at one on one vs one-on-one, it helps to look at some examples of when each version works. We’ll start with the less common version of the word “one on one.” No hyphens are included in this one because it’s used as a phrase noun rather than a modifier for any other nouns.

  • We should fight one on one.
  • Why don’t we try this one on one?
  • We can’t only do this one on one.
  • You should play one on one.
  • Go for it-one on one.

Examples Of When To Use “One-On-One”

Now, we’ll look at the more common variation with the hyphens included. We use “one-on-one” with hyphens just like any other hyphenated word in English. We typically want to keep them grouped as one word to make it obvious to the reader that the noun or object directly after is modified by it.

  • The one-on-one meeting was rearranged.
  • We’ll discuss this in a one-on-one format.
  • Why not have a one-on-one match?
  • This is a one-on-one game.
  • I’m a one-on-one competitor.

Is One On One Hyphenated AP Style?

AP style rules suggest that hyphens are seen as connectors for groups of words that make an obvious link for the reader to decipher. We use hyphenated words that are closely linked with each other to modify nouns or objects in sentences and further our meaning. Any two or three words can be hyphenated, so long as they all work together to modify the noun that directly comes after them.

Should I Capitalize “On-One” In The Word “One-On-One”?

In a title, you might be confused about how capitalization rules work for hyphenated words. Thankfully, it’s not difficult to learn about the title styles. In fact, it mostly comes down to personal choice. Some people like only to capitalize the first word and proper nouns, meaning none of the words in “one-on-one” are capitalized.

Others like to capitalize all words except for short conjunctions, prepositions, and articles. In this case, you would only capitalize the first “one” and leave “on-one” lower-case, as you only need the first letter in capitals. Finally, you can choose to capitalize every word in a title, which would mean all three words in “one-on-one” are capitalized.

Alternatives To “One On One”

We can list a few alternatives for you that might help you if you’re stuck with the hyphenation rule. Unfortunately, most relevant alternatives are also hyphenated, so it’d help you learn the rules quickly to understand them better. Either way, having alternatives ready in the bank is a great way to further your grasp on vocabulary.

  • head-to-head
  • face-to-face
  • head-on
  • personal
  • intimate

Quiz – One On One Or One-On-One?

We’ll finish up with a quick quiz to see how much you’ve learned. We’ll include options for both the hyphenated and unhyphenated variations of the spelling. It’s up to you to determine which one works for which sentence! We’ll also include the answers at the end to help you compare. If you got any wrong, you can always go back and check them out!

  1. This is a (A. one on one / B. one-on-one) meeting.
  2. We shouldn’t see each other (A. one on one / B. one-on-one).
  3. Why can’t we have a fair (A. one on one / B. one-on-one) game?
  4. You like to see me (A. one on one / B. one-on-one).
  5. Let’s have a (A. one on one / B. one-on-one) discussion about your future.

Quiz Answers

  1. B
  2. A
  3. B
  4. A
  5. B