There seem to be a few ways we can spell “short-term,” and it would help to know why that’s the case. This article will explain why it’s sometimes written as one or two words. We’ll also show you when hyphenated forms are acceptable as well.
Short term vs. Short-term vs. Shortterm
“Short-term” is almost always correct in the hyphenated form. It works in this way when written as an adjective (which means it modifies a noun). We can sometimes use “short term” without the hyphen when it is already used as a noun. “Shortterm” is never correct as one word.
According to Google Ngram Viewer, “short-term” is by far the most popular choice of the three. These results make it clear that you’re much more likely to find this phrase as an adjective than anything else.
It’s also worth noting that “short term” still gets used comparatively to “shortterm,” showing that the noun form is sometimes correct as well.
The Cambridge Dictionary and The Oxford Dictionary define “short-term” as an adjective. Both dictionaries provide examples to show how you can use it as a modifier in this way. Since it’s made of more than one word, it needs to be hyphenated.
They both also mention that “short term” works as a noun form. This shows that we don’t need the hyphen in place when “short term” doesn’t modify anything else in the sentence.
You might want to check these examples out to help you understand what an adjective and noun form looks like:
- Adjective: My short-term goals are going to get me much further along the ladder.
- Noun: In the short term, I would like to make sure I get all of this done.
Is “Shortterm” One Word?
“Shortterm” should never be written as one word. In some hyphenated words, we might find it more useful to drop the hyphen in favor of simplicity. Since “short” ends with “T” and “term” begins with “T,” it doesn’t allow us to remove the hyphen because it becomes too jarring.
These examples should clear up any confusion you might have:
- Correct: What short-term ideas do you have that are going to help us spice up the company?
- Incorrect: My shortterm financial plan is set in stone now!
- Correct: He only ran for a short term. It was quite embarrassing, really.
- Incorrect: I didn’t think about the shortterm. That’s why I’m suffering with it all now!
Is “Short term” Two Words?
“Short term” should be written as two words when it is a noun. It’s usually easy to tell when it’s a noun because words like “the” or “a” will come directly before it, and no other nouns will follow it. It is not an adjective, so no other nouns can be present in the same way.
In this form, “short” works as an adjective, while “term” becomes the noun. This turns both words into a phrasal noun that allows for the two words to interact with each other.
Here are some examples to help you:
- I haven’t thought about what to do in the short term.
- The short term isn’t relevant! I’m thinking about the bigger picture right now.
- She never plans for the short term. That’s why she always looks lost.
- I thought he had a short term! It turns out there were at least three others who ran for less time than him!
Is “Short-term” Hyphenated?
You should hyphenate “short-term” when it is an adjective and modify a noun. We can group the two words because they both modify the same noun. This is standard practice in English, according to AP Stylebook rules, so make sure you understand them.
AP Style teaches us to treat hyphens as linkers. These linkers allow connections to be made between common words when they modify the same noun. That’s why these rules apply when using “short-term.”
Here are some examples for you:
- If you don’t have any short-term prospects, why did you think it was smart to come here?
- Short-term plans are for babies! I’m not about that life!
- I didn’t think about any short-term goals, which is why I’ve been stagnant for so long.
- I have a few short-term targets that I know I can hit.
Is “Term” Capitalized In The Word “Short-Term”?
You do not need to capitalize either part of “short-term.” However, when writing it in a title, you might find it useful to do so if it means that it stays true to your title style. If every other word in your title is capitalized, capitalizing “Short-Term” works well.
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.