Knowing when to hyphenate and not to hyphenate words can seem confusing, but there are a few solid rules to follow that’ll help you out. Right now, we’re looking at the difference between “real life” and “real-life” and whether it’s possible to use the term with a hyphen between the words.
Real Life Or Real-Life – Hyphenated Or Not?
“Real life” and “real-life” are both correct and can be used in different situations. Basically, “real life” is used as a noun when a subject is in the sentence. However, you should use “real-life” when you’re saying it before a noun (in which case it becomes an adjective. It really depends on the structure of your sentence.
Is Real Life Hyphenated AP Style?
Hyphenating something AP-style links the two words together as “joiners”, which means they’re closely linked and made apparent to the reader. It’s most common to see two words hyphenated when they work together to modify a noun. For example, if you were to say “real life experience,” it wouldn’t be quite right. You’d need the hyphen, so “real-life experience”, to make sure the noun is correctly modified with a link.
Should I Capitalize “Effective” In The Word “Real-Life”?
When it comes to capitalizing words, it really comes down to personal preference and style choices. Most titles can be different based on the writer, meaning that both “Real-Life” and “Real-life” are correct in a title. It depends on which one looks better and works better for you personally. Don’t worry too much about the rules that you should follow.
However, if you like to know the rules, typically, you can capitalize titles in one of two ways. You can either capitalize the first letter of the first word and only proper nouns, or you can capitalize most words besides articles, short prepositions, and short conjunctions. Some people even like to capitalize all words in a title, and that would work, too.
Examples Of When To Use “Real Life”
Though it’s not quite as common to use “real life” without the hyphen, some exceptions make it work in a sentence. Let’s look through some examples of how you can use it.
- I have a real life.
Here, “real” is the adjective and “life” is the noun, which is usually the only time you’ll get away with saying “real life” without a hyphen.
- You’re a real life saver.”
Again, “real” is an adjective and “life” is a noun.
Examples Of When To Use “Real-Life”
Now, let’s look through some examples of when the more common “real-life” is used. You’ll find this one crops up a lot more. It’s not the most common phrase globally, but when most people say “real-life,” they’re saying it with a hyphen (though you don’t typically announce you’re using a hyphen in everyday speech).
- I have a real-life drama.
“Real” and “life” are hyphenated to become the adjective that changes the noun “drama” here.
- That was a real-life experience.
Again, “real-life” becomes the adjective, and “experience” becomes the noun.
- When you have real-life problems, let me know.
You should be able to tell which is which here!
Alternatives To “Real Life”
Now we’ve got to the bottom of whether you should say “real life” or “real-life,” it’s time to look at some alternatives. Most of the time, these alternatives will be useful if you can’t figure out the correct way to use the word. Instead of worrying about hyphenation rules, you can substitute a new word in.
This is the best option that doesn’t require two words being hyphenated to work.
This one is still hyphenated, but it’s a good substitute.
A word of Latin origin is the perfect synonym of “real-life” (and it’s fancy to use).
Quiz – Real Life Or Real-Life?
Let’s finish up with a quick quiz to see what you’ve learned!
- We’ve got a (A. real-life / B. real life) situation here.
- This microwave was a (A. real-life / B. real life) saver.
- I went through the (A. real-life / B. real life) experience. It was great.
- Don’t you want a (A. real-life / B. real life)?
- We’re (A. real-life / B. real life) people, and we have (A. real-lives / B. real lives).
- A then B
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.